I was going to give a rundown of the days performances at the inaugural Knigge Piano Competition at the U.B.C. School of Music. However, on second thought, there is really no point in rehashing what the jurors have already done. There was a clear winner today. Of all the competitors, Scott Meek stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Scott’s program was challenging, Rachmianinov, Scriabin, Mozart and Ginastera. His performance of the Rachamaninov Etude-Talbeaux opus 39 No. 5 in e flat minor was flawed only by his miscalculating what the instrument was capable of. This meant Scott had pushed the instrument to its limits before the biggest climax of the piece. However, what I found out after was that the piano technician had altered the voicing of the instrument after Scott’s rehearsal the evening before. Scott could not have known that this had taken place. What is to his credit in this situation was how fast he was able to adapt the the new state of the instrument. By the end of the piece he had taken into account the new voicing and for the rest of his performance, he targeted his climaxes perfectly. The succeeding two Scriabin Etudes (opus 42, no. 4 and opus 65 no. 3) were brilliantly executed.
Listen to his performance of the Scriabin Etude opus 65 no. 3 from his DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) recital at Indiana University last year.
Placing the Mozart after the two luxuriant romantic works was a calculated risk. Either it would work splendidly or fail miserably. In this case, Scott brought the transition from romantic to classical splendidly. The advantage of the placement in this position on the program is that it underlined the subtle streak of romanticism many people hear in Mozart. It is interesting to note that E.T.A. Hoffmann, the literary Romantic novelist, composer and music critic, considered Mozart a romantic composer. How different that is from our perception of Mozart!
The stunning moment in this short recital was Scott’s performance of Alberto Ginastera’s Sonata No. 1 opus 22. This is a fiendishly difficult work to play. It requires not only bravura piano technique, but also the subtle colourations found in Debussy’s writing. Accomplishing both as well as he did says that he is a pianist who’s reached a point where we must consider that he is one of Canada’s leading young pianists. The finalists will be heard in recital at the U.B.C. School of Music this Sunday at 2 PM. This is not to be missed!