Yulianna Avdeeva is lightyears ahead of me in all fields of piano playing. But if you ask me, Rafal Blechacz is still the better of the two – there’s a reason why there wasn’t a second place awarded in his time.
I watched the video of her final round concerto performance – like Blechacz and Li, she played the E-minor concerto (op. 11). She made decidedly more mistakes than Blechacz (I think) but that’s just my inner bigot acting up. Interpretation-wise, she romanticized it a bit more; you could call Blechacz’s playing “stiff” by comparison – I like to say “tasteful,” but many will disagree.
I borrowed the two-piano arrangement of the E-minor concerto from the music library (along with the conductor score for the 1928 version of Rachmaninoff’s fourth piano concerto – there was no alternative) and followed (starting from the middle of the first movement) along with her playing while I listened. It’s really something else to have all the formulae and blueprints and plans and schemes in front of you while you watch the builder or the engineer at work; you SEE and you ANTICIPATE – and most importantly, you FOLLOW.
The counting surprised me sometimes. It’s novel how the time signatures for the three movements go 3/4, 4/4, and 2/4, respectively.
To treat my recurring post-midterm blues (they’ve come back with a vengeance), I took the score with me to the piano room and read a bit of it. In maybe the space of an hour, I went through 39 bars (and then some for those not fully grasped). By comparison, I have 96 bars (with breaks and some extra for those not fully grasped) of Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto read and maybe half a bar for the fourth. The Chopin is surprisingly playable – he really was a unique composer in knowing exactly how to make the pianist’s life as miserable or as easy as could be. The flourishes he uses aren’t exactly cliche, but they can sound quite impressive without actually being terribly difficult to play. The Rachmaninoff is the most complex work I’ve attacked to date – the sheer volume of notes rather terrifies me, but it’s a good terror.
I salute these two wonderful composers and consign myself again to the void of being me.