2013 Beethoven Chamber Music Competition – the ‘Gwyneth George’ Award
Wednesday 1 May 2013, Steinway Hall
Prizewinners: Benjamin Baker (violin) and Petr Limonov (piano) – both RCM graduates.
The final took place held at Steinway Hall on 1 May 2013, and featured three duos who also participated in an extended masterclass given on the previous day by the distinguished violinist Oliver Lewis, who was a member of the Jury that also included the veteran cellist Gwyneth George, patron of the competition, and pianist Alberto Portugheis, Vice President of the BPSE.
The competition attracted a select audience to enjoy enthralling performances attuned to the chamber music intimacy and interactivity of Beethoven’s duos for violin and cello. The programme was framed by Op 30 nos 1 and 2 with the cello sonata Op 102/1 in between, providing stylistic as well as timbral contrast. Particularly attractive was Benjamin Barker’s tone quality, gliding into phrases with expressive colour, and investing each motif and gesture with sonorous presence, always alert to unexpected shifts of accents. Limonov generally adopted a crisp and rhythmically pointed attack which enhanced the sense of drama, especially in the outer movements, with a slow movement that was tellingly shaped. Laura Moinian cello and Ching Hand Li piano followed with their rendition of the Cello Sonata Op. 102/1 with plenty of attention to the shifting rhetoric and rhythmically arresting dialogues. The programmed concluded with a stirring and mature account of Op.30/2 by Remy Walter, violin and Asiya Akperova, piano, with plenty of attention to silences as a contrast to the momentum of the whole.
In the Jury announcement, Alberto Portugheis highlighted the high standards and added that in addition to the main cash award to Benjamin Barker and Petr Limonov, all three duos would be invited to participate in the forthcoming BPSE concert series.