La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Montreal International Music Competition Enters Finals

by Christine Lee

The Montreal International Music Competition is well underway, with the semi-finals over, and the final stage with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra about to begin. Of the twelve young violinists, only six are moving on to the finals, and will be performing at the Maison Symphonique under Maxim Vengerov’s baton, on May 14th and May 15th.

The six finalists are Ji Young Lim (South Korea), Chi Li (Taiwan), Marc Bouchkov (Belgium), Zeyu Victor Li (China), Fédor Roudine (France), and Stephen Waarts (United States).

The semi-finals spanned over two days, and were divided into three sections, each gathering an audience that cheered on their favorites and noted their own rankings.

Zeyu Victor Li, hailing from China, was the first candidate to perform in the last section of the semi-finals. Exuding a strong personality as well as confidence through his music, and expressing both musicality and sensibility of a mature violinist, Li charmed the entire hall with his programme: Prokofiev’s Sonata no.2 in D major, Lutoslawski’s Subito, Massnet’s Méditation de Tha
ïs, and Milsten’s Paganiniana. He played with great technique and every note was on key.

Stephen Waarts, from the United States of America, was the next candidate performing in the final segment of the semi-finals. Though slightly nervous at first, the tone of his violin did not waver. Of all the candidates that night, Waarts produced the most warm and beautiful sound which greatly suited his programme: Ravel’s Sonata in G major, Penderecki’s Cadenza, Szymanowski’s Nocturne et Tarentelle, op.28, and Elgar’s La Capricieuse, op. 17.

Although both Li and Waarts study with the same teacher, Aaron Rosand, at the Curtis Institute of Music, both had distinct sound and each displayed different and unique characters in their music.
Marc Bouchkov, a native from Belgium, revealed great lyricism in his program: Brahms’s Sonata in D minor, op. 108, Ernst’s Die letzte Rose, Kissine’s Caprice. His technique was strong and flashy and impressed the audience, which chorused cries of ‘Bravo’!

All the candidates will perform a concerto with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra: either Tcha
ïkovsky’s D major Concerto, op. 35 or Brahms’s Concerto in D major, op.77. Sibelius’s D minor Concerto, op. 47 unfortunately was not amongst the choice of the six finalists.

Kudos to Philip Chiu, the accompanying pianist for Waarts, who performed with flair and gave a solid and musical support for the young violinist.


The jury consists of André Bourdeau (Canada), Vladimir Landsman (Canada), Martin T. Engstroem (Sweden), Rodney Friend (United Kingdom), Michael Frischenschlager (Austria), Yuzuko Horigome (Japan), Régis Pasquier (France), Barry Shiffman (Canada), Mark Kaplan (United States), and Kathleen Winkler (United States).

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