More than 100 applicants have submitted their videos to participate the 12th International German Piano Award, ten of them were selected by a pre-selection jury for the pianists' meeting in Kronberg. After two days and four rounds, the winner was determined based on the results from all rounds being taken into account for the overall decision. Given the outstanding quality of all the nominees, the jury also had a challenging task to accomplish. The seven-person jury include renowned musicians as Robert Levin, Boris Petrushansky and Christian Höppner as well as last year's winner Konstantin Emelyanov.
Two finalists performed solo in the Carl Bechstein Hall in the morning on 25 November and with the Philharmonie Frankfurt in the Casals Forum of the Kronberg Academy in the evening. Andrey Gugnin shone with Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto in C minor, which he interpreted extremely lively and highly differentiated in terms of articulation and dynamics. What wonderful timbres he also elicited from the C. Bechstein D 282 concert grand piano in the slow movement showed the great master, who stands in the tradition of such outstanding and yet so different pianists as Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter.
Xuanyi Mao performed Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and won the audience's hearts with her admirable virtuosity. So she not only received the F.A.Z. Audience Award, but also the Arnold Freymuth Special Prize, which was announced for the first time and at very short notice by the Kuthe Group.
Gregor Willmes (head of cultural management at C. Bechstein Pianoforte AG) recalled at the award ceremony in the Casals Forum that Pablo Casals was not only an excellent musician, but also a person who spent his life fighting for peace, freedom, human rights and democracy. Following this tradition, the Special Award was established to commemorate Arnold Freymuth and his brothers, Kurt and Paul. Paul was murdered by National Socialists in concentration camp, while Arnold and Kurt committed suicide. Arnold Freymuth (1872–1933) was a legal writer, republican-oriented judge, politician and human rights activist who repeatedly showed great civil courage throughout his life. We must remember this again, especially in these times, in order to learn the right lessons from the Weimar Republic.
Incidentally, all four rounds of the competition were live-streamed and the clips are still available online. Please enjoy the performances of all the nominees: Raúl da Costa, Andrey Gugnin, Uladzislau Khandohi, Jean-Michel Kim, Seunghyun Lee, Xuanyi Mao, Alexei Melnikov, Ilia Papoian, Yongi Woo and Suah Ye!
If you want to experience Andrey Gugnin’s performance live, you will have the opportunity at the C. Bechstein Recital on 13 December in Brucknerhaus Linz!
Photos: Christoph Martin Frommen/Internationaler Deutscher Pianistenpreis