Reflections on MICMC and personal taste

Taste:

1. the ability to make discerning judgments about aesthetic, artistic, and intellectual matters; discrimination: to have taste
2. judgment of aesthetic or social matters according to a generally accepted standard.

It’s the generally accepted standard that’s the interesting part. We all know that family, friends and colleagues will have different taste to ourselves, and often it’s the arts that will provoke the most widely differing opinions. One example of this is some of the interesting comments on a previous post on this blog about the 6th Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.

Yesterday, Eamonn Kelly voiced his thoughts in this extract from an article in The Australian.

“For MICMC, there are effectively three juries: an official jury of distinguished musicians and pedagogues, determining finalists, section winners and the grand prize winner; artistic staff at Musica Viva who select their winner from any of the 16 competing ensembles; and the live and radio audiences who vote on prizes for best trio and quartet.

“These differing priorities were particularly apparent in a trio final that featured dramatically contrasting performances of Ravel’s Piano Trio. Awarded first prize, Trio Rafale (Switzerland) delivered a precise sequence of notes, dynamics and articulations but demonstrated scant stylistic empathy. Awarded the audience prize, Trio Paul Klee (France) offered nuance, delicacy and sublime idiomatic detail but was technically inexact and, in ensemble, less cohesive.

“Equally contentious was the quartet final, where audience and jury once again agreed to disagree. A popular favourite throughout the competition, the Kelemen Kvartett (Hungary) won the audience prize for an intense, highly polished rendition of Bartok’s Fifth String Quartet, the first movement conveyed with mechanistic rage. The jury preferred the Amaryllis Quartet’s account of Beethoven’s late String Quartet in C sharp minor, a performance that was elegant and stylistically appropriate with one extraordinary exception: an inexplicably vicious, unrefined final movement.

“Returning for a winner’s concert to decide the grand prize, a more relaxed Trio Rafale revisited opening round repertoire, with a crisp, lyrical performance of Schumann’s First Piano Trio that was well paced and attractively shaped.

“The Amaryllis Quartet paired a repeat performance of Haydn’s “Rider” Quartet that was lively, well-balanced and generally sophisticated with an interpretation of Ravel’s String Quartet that overstated articulation, laboured over atmospheric shimmerings and lacked any sense of reverie.

“While this proved sufficient to secure the Monash University Grand Prize for the Amaryllis Quartet, the differences of opinion persisted: Musica Viva made an unprecedented decision to bypass both section winners for its national touring prize.

“Instead, a somewhat startled Kelemen Kvartett was called back into the spotlight, with wild applause suggesting that in this competition there were at least three “first prize” ensembles.”

Read the full article here.

In the end, if it’s not too cliched to say so, it is these differences of opinion which make the world an interesting place. Did you attend or listen to MICMC? Which ensembles did you like best?

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