Hina Maeda from China studying in Tokyo has won the 16th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań, Western Poland.

Hina Maeda (PAP)

I am in Darmstadt in Germany so I was unable to attend the finals of the Wieniawski Violin Competition. I was overwhelmed by the playing of the Brahms Violin Concerto by the winner Hina Maeda watched online.

The young Johannes Brahms (seated) and Joseph Joachim

Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) was an Austro-Hungarian child prodigy who became one of the great violinists of the 19th century. He played Beethoven's Violin Concerto at the age of 12 under the baton of Felix Mendelssohn. Brahms was only 14 when he first heard Joachim perform the then neglected concerto in 1848. Brahms remarked to Joachim: 'I reckoned the concerto to be your own… I was certainly your most enraptured listener.'

They became friends some years a later, sharing a love of past masterpieces and the priority of music having a deeper meaning beyond virtuosity and cheap thrills. Brahms did not write his own violin concerto until 1878 during the summer while staying at picturesque Pörtschach am Wörthersee in Carinthia in Austria. A most inspiring place. Brahms, impressed with the violinist's own concertos, composed it with Joachim's advice on violin technique. Brahms revised and refined the work many times. 

Pörtschach am Wörthersee

Maeda was powerfully communicative from the very first Allegro non troppo movement. I love the total emotional commitment and phrasing of her playing so much …. a truly passionate and deeply musical performance where music is transformed into a communicative language. The first movement cadenza written by Joachim was truly remarkable, leaping effortlessly beyond virtuosity and affectingly expressive. The Adagio was profoundly moving and lyrical. It also revealed an intimate connection with the orchestra. 

Maeda fired up the Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace — Poco più presto with an incendiary explosion of passionate energy. This was a true Hungarian ‘giocoso’ final movement….almost too fierce in its unbridled energy, but at the age of 20 can one have too much sensual energy? Maeda was really possessed by the music, taken over by it and becoming that highest of musical aspirations, a type of conduit for the composer. I found it extraordinary to watch this phenomenon as she inspired the orchestra, the conductor and the audience.  

I was not surprised at all by her worthy win. One so rarely encounters this type of utter unreserved expression of personality, character and 'authenticity' of the truest variety in any instrumentalist. Here we have a unique voice and a personality deeply in emotional love with all the music she plays. She gave the concerto everything she possessed in her human frame without reservation.

If you wish to listen and watch this extraordinary phenomenon:


This is her playing Paganini's Caprice No.11 in C major in the First Stage


Magnificent performances were also given by second and third prize winners, the  29-year-old Meruert Karmenova from Kazakhstan and 21-year-old Qingzhu Weng from China.


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