2012 Leeds International Piano Competition

Leeds Town Hall where the Finals take place tonight (14 September) and tomorrow night (15th September)

I have not had the time to follow this competition in detail unfortunately except on the internet which is not ideal but I have certainly watched the results with the greatest interest.

Australians should take note that the fine Australian pianist Jayson Gillham reached the Finals and is playing this evening. He was also highly regarded in the 2010 Chopin International Competition in Warsaw. He really is achieving extraordinary things.

Competition Website:

Friday 14th September

Louis Schwizgebel, Beethoven: Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

Jiayan Sun, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16


Jayson Gillham, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73

Saturday 15th September

Andrejs Osokins, Prokofiev: Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26

Federico Colli, Beethoven: Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73


Andrew Tyson, Rachmaninov: Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

The Orchestra could not be better or the conductor more brilliant

The Halle Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder

The audiostream is unavailable until September 17th but  BBC Radio 3  are broadcasting the finals.  Schedule is at:


Friday 14 September 20.30 CET

Saturday 15 September 19.30 CET

They also offer a chance to hear performances again for a few days if you cannot listen at the actual times.

Results of the Finals

First Prize - Federico Colli

Second Prize - Louis Schwizgebel

Third Prize - Jiayan Sun

Fourth Prize - Andrejs Osokins

Fifth Prize - Andrew Tyson

Sixth Prize - Jayson Gillham

Terence Judd - Halle Orchestra Prize - Andrew Tyson

(Named after a gifted young English pianist of near genius Terence Judd, the last and favourite pupil of Arthur Schnabel. He made some iconic recordings and performed the Romantic repertoire magnificently. His tragedy was to have committed suicide at the age of 22 by leaping into the sea off the cliffs at Beachy Head, the chalk headland on the English coast of East Sussex . The prize is decided by members of the Halle who have been present at all the concerto performances with a casting vote if necessary by Sir Mark Elder)

Certainly this remarkable performance of the Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto in D Minor Op. 30 richly deserved this special prize. To my mind Tyson recreated the work in a way I have never heard before, extracting extraordinary lyricism with his often reduced and unaccustomed tempi which revealed extraordinary concealed life and spirit, a wonderful singing polyphony that in most performances is inaudible - even in Rachmaninov's own recorded account. Tremendously courageous and such an interpetative risk-taker is Tyson - a wonderful rethinking of the piece.

The internal life he revealed in this work by allowing it to breathe was quite spell-binding. We have become overly accustomed to hearing it so often performed as a huge virtuoso display piece with demonic in drive and intensity  a la Horowitz, that I found his deeply soulful, even contemplative approach absolutely riveting and movingly poetic. This is not to say that the viruoso elements (the cadenzas for example) were not brilliantly executed when required by his complete technique. I hope the Halle release this soon as a live recording. 

Well I have now seen the results. The jury decision on the winner is not so surprising, but the other placings not so clear. Federico Colli is clearly an artist of high calibre. His Beethoven 'Emperor' concerto was majesterial and Olympian, the Adagio deeply and emotionally  moving. 

One must remember that the winner is judged on all his performances not just the concerto. This is why Yuliana Avdeeva was a surprise winner of the Chopin in 2010 although it did not surprise me in the least from the outset. Consistency is the key to convincing jury committees. Everyone thought Ingolf Wunder should have won the competition after his superb Chopin concerto in the finals....the same feeling emerged this evening with Andrew Tyson but it was not to be his night as a winner. 

Just to reach the finals is a magnificent achievement for any young pianist. Tyson should not feel the slightest disappointment and probably does not, but having come thus far it must be tough...But how far Andrew  Tyson, this brilliant young American, has advanced in musical maturity since I last heard him two years ago in the Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw! Wonderful to hear.

Chopin is an elusive creature as a composer and even more as a man...and playing Chopin in Poland before Poles with their special and even possessive attitude towards their national composer and spiritual spokesman...I would not have had the courage!  

All of these finalists are brilliant pianists and will be offered a raft of engagements with famous orchestras and conductors as well as appearances at many festivals. All will benefit tremendously in their careers.

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