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French Triumph at the 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition

The 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition concluded on June 27th 2019, naming the winners across its six categories. In the customarily much-followed piano category the Gold Medal went to the 22-year-old French pianist Alexandre Kantorow (the only finalist to opt for Tchaikovsky's Second, rather than First, Piano Concerto). Kantorow recently released a much-praised album of Saint-Saëns piano concertos for BIS, a label that showed considerable foresight in starting to record with him five years ago. Watch his final performance here -

Two Silver Medals were awarded: to Mao Fujita, 20, from Japan (a firm audience favourite), and Dmitry Shiskin, 27, from Russia, while the jury, chaired by Denis Matsuev, gave three Bronze Medals - to Konstantin Emelyanov, 25, from Russia, Alexey Melnikov, 29, from Russia, and Kenneth Broberg, 25, from the USA.

The Chinese pianist An Tianxu, 20, was awarded fourth place but singled out for his courage when he fell victim to an epic mix-up which saw the orchestra starting with the wrong piece. Tianxu took to the stage with the understanding that he was to play the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto 1, followed by Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. However, an administrative error backstage meant the orchestra and conductor were prepared for the opposite order. Mentally prepared for the concerto, Tianxu An nodded to conductor Vasily Petrenko to begin, expected the epic orchestral chords of the Tchaikovsky. To his horror they played the rapid opening of the Rachmaninov. The soloist tried desperately to catch the eye of the conductor, but the piano entry is almost immediate. You can watch the full performance on


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