Jean-Marie Fournier had a brilliant idea.
To organize a Competition very different than all the others in the world, with only Prizewinners of other competitions , and as for tennis championships, only one Prizewinner.
This way only the best musicians are competing.
With the help of his wife Chantal, he turns this idea into reality in 1989.
In 1992 the « Société des Bains de Mer ». of Monaco decides to host the event, becoming the « Monte-Carlo Piano Masters ».
In 1997 the event extends with Voice and in 2004 with Violin.
Every year they present now one of the three disciplines.
I had the opportunity to attend a few « Monte Carlo Masters ».
After auditions around the world, 12 competitors are chosen.
This year two Russian violinists did not attend, so there were only 10 rivals left,to start the ¼ finals. Normally there are only 4 musicians selected for the semi finals, but due to the high level the jury decided to keep 5.
It is of course difficult to make a choice between Winners, all with different personalities.
But I must say that as in the other « Monte Carlo Masters » I attended in past, the first selection is always very satisfactory.
It is only for the « last match », that I had sometimes a different opinion.
But as one of the jury members of last year’s Piano Competition said
« Music is not an exact science.There is definitely a subjective choice. Everyone reacts differently to the art of a perfect musician »
This year the Jury is composed by the best musicians.
Maxim Vengerov, considered as one of the best violinist of his generation is presiding .
At his side no one less than his previous teacher Zakhar Bron.
Bron had the incredible opportunity to teach in far away Novossibirsk, two exceptional artists Vadim Repin and Maxim Vengerov.
He was absolutely dedicated and became their « Mentor » when they were teenagers.
Hundreds of violinists applied to have lessons with the teacher.
So Bron could select the very best ones and of course he prepared many future winners.
Boris Brott is a reknown conductor in Canada and in the States, and appears also in Europe.
René Croesi is one of the leading musical personalities in Monaco.
Patrice Fontanarosa is one of the top French violinist , worldwide acclaimed soloist and teacher.
And Jean-Marie Fournier who is the founder of the event, is a brilliant pianist.
In the ¼ finals Hildegarde Fesneau played very well, but showed some flaws in the virtuoso pieces.
Thanks to her I discovered Lili Boulanger’s little gem « Nocturne ».
Nigel Armstrong, whom I heard before, was just completely stressed.
He made me discover a very fun piece « Stomp » from John Corigliano.
Stomp is a N.Y. show with dancers and percussions, and Corigliano made a personal version for violin.
In the ¼ finals we were all flabbergasted by Elli Choi a 14 years old american violinist from Corean descent. Elli actually just turned 15 on September 4.
Enormous sound from a ¾ violin and the looks of a teenage girl.
A real phenomenon, with an unbelievable virtuosity and musicality.
I am usually always very sceptical for the future of « Wunderkinder ».
But Maxim Vengerov proved that my opinion is not always right.
When I heard him at age 15, he was already an incredible virtuoso and musician compared to Jascha Heifetz.
The five musicians selected for the semi finals are all brilliant artists.
Very difficult choice for the jury for the final round.
Kristi Gjezi, very liked by the Monte-Carlo public, was maybe a bit too cautious to my taste. I heard him play with more freedom and fantasy in normal concerts.
Vladislava Luchenko played also a bit too « safe », trying not to shock the impressive jury.
Aylen Pritchin could have been between the two finalists, but it was not his best day.
We could feel his stress, he was rushing sometimes.
Elli Choi confirmed what we heard in the ¼ finals.
Diana Pakso is a marvellous violinist.
Very charismatic, beautiful stage presence and above all High Class playing.
Stravinsky’s « Suite Italienne » from the ballet « Pulcinella » in the arrangement for violin by Dushkin was a delight.
Very creative, she shared her enthusiasm with the public.
The jury decided to have for the finals Elli Choi and Diana Pasko.
It is going to be very exciting !