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Scottish International Piano Competition

The 21-year-old French pianist Jonathan Fournel won first place and walked off with a basketful of prizes
at the final of the Scottish International Piano Competition at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall after a very long afternoon and an immensely enjoyable four concerto marathon concert that was way beyond the sum of its parts.

Fournel, who had clearly impressed the judges throughout the initial and semi-final stages of the competition, is a lean, lithe, incredibly concentrated and unremittingly intense pianist whose majestic performance of Brahms's Second Piano Concerto with the RSNO and conductor Gergely

Madaras, largely beautifully structured and thoroughly idiomatic, was clearly his trump card for the final.

And my goodness, did it pay off for him. This magnetic young musician leaves Glasgow with £10,000 cash, a bagful of trophies and a further £500 for the best performance of the commissioned work, a dazzling, fingertwisting and mind-bendingly mercurial new piano piece by Rory Boyle, entitled

5. That's the gold peak of Fournel's winnings.

But the Frenchman also won a new Bluthner grand piano, three concerts with the RSNO and Peter

Oundjian next year playing Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto in John Suchet's Beethoven night, and, I

have no doubt, a forthcoming series of invitations from the country's music clubs and societies.

I felt that third-prize winner Jianing Kong blew it in his Beethoven Four, which felt like a Munro cowering in the foothills of the Himalayas, while Ilya Maximov (second) blew everyone away with his

pure-steel Prokofiev Three.

And, if I may say, Glaswegian David Gray was an undeserved fourth after his commanding Rachmaninov Three, which I found compelling from start to end. A stimulating afternoon.


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