Ciurlionis Organ Competition, Round 2, Group 1

in secretsoforganplaying •  last month  (edited)

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I'm sitting in the middle of the church of St Casimir in Vilnius right now where the 2nd Round of the 8th International M.K. Ciurlionis Piano and Organ Competition just begun. The jury is sitting in the front underneath the dome. I wanted to also sit under the dome from the right hand side but the jury wanted to be left alone with their business. Yesterday was a day of rest and preparation for participants who were passed Round 1.

So the first to play today is No. 1 Yohan Chung from South Korea. He starts his program with Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548 by J.S. Bach. In the prelude his playing is stable and almost without any mistakes. I think he needs to articulate more in these reverberate acoustics. The fugue starts before the echo of the last chord prelude has subsided. I don't expect too much variety of registration in this piece among the participants because everybody would probably play Organo Pleno. Perhaps the choice of reeds in the pedals and couplers would be the major difference. The fugue sounds rather virtuoso but again more articulation is needed for clarity. Here the organist exchanges Posaune to Trompete in the pedals. The trill in the final cadence is without the Nachschlag.

My score on the 10 scale basis:

Technique: 7
Registration: 8
Artistry: 7

Next we hear the Fugue in C# Minor, VL86 by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis which is the required piece for every contestant of Round 2. After the quiet beginning I think the pedals are too soft in the episode of E Major. The organist doesn't seem to pay attention to harmonic changes. A few audible mistakes towards the end make it less than perfect experience.

My score:

Technique: 9
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

The final piece on his program is Part 1 of "Laudes" by Petr Eben. Quick 64th notes are too fast and inaudible most of the time. Sound like embellishments and not like melodic elements. Because of this and huge acoustics I often hear a bit of musical chaos. Maybe this organist isn't used to large reverberate spaces? However, to people who haven't played this piece before it's a solid performance.

My score:

Technique: 6
Registration: 9
Artistry: 7

The next contestant is No. 2 Tyler Jason Boehmer from the United States. His BWV 548 unfortunately starts with a mistake in the pedal part. A nice solid tempo carries him further without any problems. At least in the prelude he has a better feeling for articulation and harmonic changes than the previous organist. The fugue proves this as well. Also he doesn't use Posaune in the fugue and instead uses Trompete.

My score:

Technique: 9
Registration: 9
Artistry: 9

Next on the program is "Eaux natales" from Poèmes pour orgue: "Eaux natales" by Thierry Escaich. This is a mysterious sounding piece combining elements of modal writing and exploration of organ colors. Stop changes sometimes come too late.

My score:

Technique: 10
Registration: 8
Artistry: 10

The Ciurlionis fugue is left for the end. He chooses a nice-sounding flute for the E Major episode but some stop is added not on time. The same happens in the pedals later. Good sense of listening to harmonic changes. Sometimes forgets to breath.

My score:

Technique: 9
Registration: 8
Artistry: 9

The next contestant is No. 3 Ilaria Centorrino from Italy. She starts her program with BWV 548. I find her Organo Pleno sounding too sharp. Too much legato. Upbeats of the subject in the fugue are too long. I like Posaune in the fugue. A small slip in the pedals doesn't disturb the flow of music.

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 8
Artistry: 8

Now the organist plays "Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel" from "L'Ascension" by Olivier Messiaen. In the first theme the quintuplets could be performed more precisely. Almost hit the wrong soft note but quickly recovered (could be that she mixed up with the manual change). Forgot to breath before one of the episodes. Pedals rush with 4' flute. The right hand sounds too loud at the end. Need to use the Swell pedal.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 8
Artistry: 8

The organist finishes the program with the fugue by Ciurlionis. Slight mistakes where the pedals come in. Pedals too soft where the hands go to the louder manual. Wrong accidentals towards the culmination. I would have preferred darker stop colors. Not a good attention to harmonic changes.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

The last contestant today before the break is Somang Lee from South Korea. She starts with "Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel" by Olivier Messiaen. I find the 8' reed too strong in the 2nd theme and in the next episode the left hand theme too soft. More expressiveness is needed and focus on harmonic as well as melodic details. Needs to breath before the last episode. Good registration at the end.

My score:

Technique: 9
Registration: 9
Artistry: 7

Next sounds the fugue by Ciurlionis. Pedals too weak after manual change. In the middle of fugue somebody from the church turned on the lights and turned them off again. I hope this wasn't a distraction for the organist. Although some harmonic mistakes appeared around that time. The light was turned on the 2nd time! Are they illuminating the room based on what's happening in the piece?

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 9
Artistry: 9

The organist finishes her program with BWV 548. In the rhythmical groups of dotted eighth notes with sixteenth notes I wanted more articulation. Good emphasis on the form and key changes. In the middle again too much legato appears. No Posaune but instead Trompete in the fugue. Middle sixteenth note runs - too legato. Otherwise, nice flow of the music.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 8
Artistry: 8

Now I'm going to go grab a coffee and find something to eat to warm me up and will come back in about an hour to listen to Group 2. Stay tuned!

Organ specification:
http://www.vargonai.lt/vargonai_vilnius_kazimiero.htm

Live streaming should be available from competition's website:

http://ciurlionis.link/en/b/organ

[Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion which may or may not coincide with the reader's opinion. If you don't like it, write your own.]

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Check out my Secrets of Organ Playing books:
https://amazon.com/author/vidaspinkevicius


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