Even the distinguished juries were amazed: during the ninth Carl Bechstein Competition for children und teenagers last weekend in Berlin, several piano duos were awarded for the high level of performances unexpected for their age.
It was the third time that the competition was held in category of piano duo, and this time for four hands. Among the remarkable duos, the first prize winners of category III (14 to 15 years old) and IV (16 to 17 years old) stood out: truly amazing, how the 10-year-old Sophie Elisabeth Wagner from Wachtberg (near Bonn) and his 15-year-old brother Alexander William have mastered the highly virtuosic Hungarian Rhaposody No. 2 by Franz Liszt on the 212th birthday of the composer.
Also awarded with the first prize of age group III, Mina Selina and Marie Elisa Himpel from Hannover interpreted Francis Poulenc’s piano sonata for four hands, FP8 with great musical maturity at the prizewinner concert.
The duet Valeria Erandi and Alejandro González Gerwig. impressed the audience with Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and won the first prize of age group IV. Just seven years ago, the siblings from Königswinter have also won the first prize of age group I.
The awards of this year were presented by the unanimous jury which consisted of experienced duo pianists and pedagogues: Prof. Wolfgang Manz (chairman), Wei Chen, Götz Schumacher, Alina Shalamova and Sivan Silver. They gave the first prize of age group I to Maximilian Hongchen Zhu and Yishi Huang from Baden-Württemberg and the first prize of age group II was awarded to the duo Darian Leonid Müller and Parzival Passa Namsoongnein from Würzburg, who also won the special prize for best interpretation of contemporary composition for their age group with their performance of Kurtág. The same prize for age group III went to the duo Klėja and Kaja Kašubaitė from Berlin.
For the first time, the Hindemith Foundation presented their two special prizes at the Carl Bechstein Competition for outstanding Hindemith interpretation. These were awarded to the duos Andrey Azpiri Munoz and Michael Kabanovsky from Berlin as well as Mina Selina and Marie Elisa Himpel, both from age group III.
“With this competition, the Carl Bechstein Foundation has set the goal to purposefully support playing music together”, affirmed Gregor Willmes, chairman of the board of the Carl Bechstein Foundation after the competition, “Every two years, we want to hold a chamber music competition among numerous solo competitions for children and teenager. Although there are fewer candidates than the solo competitions, the artistic quality remains high.”
The next Carl Bechstein Competition will take place between 18 to 20 October 2024 in Britz Castle and devote to “piano solo” category again.
Photos: © Patricia Haas/Carl Bechstein Stiftung
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