Wednesday 29 June 2011

Tchaik Comp: Round three, day two

Imagine a world where we didn't have to sleep.  What would you do with the hours of 11pm-7am?  I'd probably end up playing too many computer games, though this week I'd certainly be watching as much of the Tchaikovsky Competition finals as possible.  Even with my self-imposed focus on the violin prize, there's not enough time in the day to see everything. 

The second night of the third round saw a pair of Tchaikovsky Concertos and a Prokofiev 1st, which was an interesting opportunity to compare at least two soloists in the same repertoire.  With time at a premium, I focused on the first movements, and found three quite different players gradually winning me over with their playing.  First up was American violinist Eric Silberger (pictured), giving a nervy but persuasive Tchaikovsky Concerto which settled down as it progressed.  I admired his engagement with the work's expressive core, but it was his misfortune to share an evening with Russian fiddler Sergey Dogadin, whose ease with the solo part's difficulties was exceptional and whose calm control and perfect technique reminded me of Julia Fischer.  Between them came another American, Nigel Armstrong, whose choice of concerto (Prokofiev's 1st) was wise and whose performance was hugely enjoyable.  You'd have to say, though, that on this evidence, Dogadin has the edge.

One issue of sound did concern me, however.  Listening remotely is always going to be a different experience to being in the hall, but I was very aware of the dry tone of both Silberger and Armstrong during the first half, which had been replaced by a warmer and more reverberant sound for Dogadin.  Had the technical people altered the mix for the second half, or was Dogadin simply standing in a better spot on the stage?  Whatever the answer, I was left wondering how different the perspective of the judges must be, sitting close to half way back in this large hall, and how close to acoustical reality our online vantage point really was.

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