Founded in 1961 by Dame Fanny Waterman DBE DMus FRCM and Marion Thorpe CBE, the Leeds International Piano Competition has helped to initiate the careers of some of the world’s greatest pianists. There have been 16 instalments of the Competition to date, the first of which was back in 1963 when the first prize was won by British pianist Michael Roll. The Competition takes place every 3 years ever since (except for after 1996 when it was held four years later to coincide with the turn of the millennium), and each time has helped to bring many great pianists to prominence. Rafael Orozco won in 1966, was followed three years later by Radu Lupu in 1969, and whose triumph in turn was followed by that of Murray Perahia in 1972. More great winners followed – Dimitri Alexeev (1975), Michel Dalberto (1978), Ian Hobson (1981), Jon Kimura Parker (1984), Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Artur Pizarro (1990), Ricardo Castro (1993) and Ilya Itin (1996). This high standard has continued into the new century with Alessio Bax (2000), Antti Siirala (2003), Sunwook Kim (2006) and the Competition’s first ever female First prize-winner, Sofya Gulyak in 2009.
Now in 2012 Federico Colli can add his name to the long list of distinguished pianists who have graced this festival, and deservedly so. His rendition of the Beethoven ‘Emperor” concerto in the Final rounded off some sterling performances throughout the festival. The standard was incredibly high and the other five finalists put in some very creditable performances too. The final was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and it along with BBC4 TV have and will continue to broadcast the performances from the festival to coincide with their current piano-featured season.
The Final was a truly international affair with and joining the Italian Colli were, Osokins from Latvia, Tyson from USA, Gillham from Australia and the United Kingdom, Schwizgebel from Switzerland and Sun form China. Here were their points:
Federico Colli, 55
Jayson Gillham, 5
Andrejs Osokins, 61
Louis Schwizgebel, 48
Jiayan Sun, 32
Andrew Tyson, 33
The Final was held over two days and these were the concertos played by each finalist:
Friday 14th September
Louis Schwizgebel, Beethoven: Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
Jiayan Sun, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16
Jayson Gillham, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73
Saturday 15th September
Andrejs Osokins, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26
Federico Colli, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73
Andrew Tyson, Rachmaninov: Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30
Speaking after his award-winning performance on Saturday, pianist Kathryn Stott called him “totally amazing”.
“He completely reinvented The Emperor,” she told BBC Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawney. “It was fresh. He’s a superb pianist.
The solists were accompanied by the fabulous Halle Orchestra under the baton of Sir Mark Elder. The Jury comprised of The 91 year-old founder Dame Fanny Waterman, the UK’s Christopher Elton (Head of Keyboards at the Royal Academy of Music , London), Adam Gatehouse ( Editor of Live Music at BBC Radio 3), Russia’s Pavel Gililov (Jury Chairman in charge of artistic matters at the International Beethoven Competition, Bonn), China’s Bao Huiqiao, (chairman of the China International Piano Competition), Korea’s Daejin Kim (professor at the Korean National University of Arts), the USA’s Robert Levin (President of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition -Leipzig), also from the USA is Robert McDonald (artistic director of the Taos School of Music and Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico) and Ireland’s John O’Conor (Concert Pianist).