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Ionarts-at-Large: From the 2010 ARD Competition, Day 14 - Horn, Final

The ARD International Music Competition is winding down, with the third of four finals over with. The jury had promoted four French horns into the final, among them, somewhat inexplicably, the German Luise Bruch. She probably least expected the final of all people, which would explain why the concerto—she chose Reinhold Glière’s over Richard Strauss’—so caught her by surprise. It was an unfortunate performance, and by the looks of her, no one was more keenly aware of it than the artist herself. Let silence rule the day on this one.

Next to play his concerto with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, again under Christoph Poppen, was Paolo Mendes. Not only is Strauss' second EI major concerto (AV132) so much more to the point than the Glière, Mendes also played it very passably, his charismatically clear tone and scarcely a hint of hesitancy hinting at the fact that he already has a solo horn position at a major orchestra, the DSO Berlin.

Dániel Ember tried to make the Glière more palatable, and to the extent that he succeeded (it still isn’t a sophisticated concerto and it takes unnatural love of the French horn to find any merit in the trite finale) it was the result of his confidence, the resulting precision, the roundness of the slow movement, and the stormy first few moments of the Allegro vivace. The finale now became a boys’ competition of solo-horn players from different major German orchestras, Ember being with the Hamburg State Opera orchestra (the same where Christian Kunert, bassoon ARD Prize winner in 2008 performs).

The third in that triptych was Přemsyl Vojta, who is a solo horn at the Konzerthaus Orchestra in Berlin. The BRSO, still awfully loud in the Glière (not that it’s a sophisticated concerto), notably moderated its tone in the second half, and also performed the Strauss concerto generally with greater nuance. That meant that Vojta got very reasonable orchestral support for his concerto performance which was another solid notch above the competition. His dark, varnished tone and total confidence ensured him the audience prize and the first prize, both of which were not in the least surprising. The event ended on a very conciliatory note for Ember and Mendes, too; they got to share a second place.

Tonight the last final—that of the (promising) flutes—will take place.

All pictures courtesy ARD Intl. Musik Competition, © Dorothee Falke

available at AmazonR.Strauss, Horn Concertos,
Previn / WPh
Ronald Janezic (et al.)
available at AmazonR.Glière, Horn (& Cello) Concerto,
Soustrot / Royal Flemish Phil
Eliz Erkalp (et al.)

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