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CLASSICAL: Review - Towering ivories in final; Stephen Brant Memorial Concert Andrejs Osokins, Sasha Grynyuk Symphony Hall ****.

Byline: John Gough

Two years ago, the finals of the Brant International Piano Competition were disrupted by a bomb scare which caused the evacuation of Symphony Hall.

The adjudicators decided to award equal prizes to all three finalists, and this year's Memorial concert, usually given by the winner, was to have featured all three players.

However, yet again misfortune struck, and one of the trio, Soyeon Kim, injured her foot over the weekend and was unable to travel from Paris to play.

Latvian pianist Andrejs Osokins chose a comparative rarity for his large scale first half, Schumann's First Sonata.

Osokins pulled together all the wildly divergent strands of this young man's piece and created a persuasive sense of improvisation with strong forward momentum. Full of nervous excitement and exaltation, the intensity of passion was admirably contained and controlled without ever stopping the flow.

Sasha Grynyuk, from the Ukraine, had a variety of shorter pieces to show us, the most 'modern' of which was Janacek's dark and disturbing Sonata: 1.X. 1905.

This was a bit of a mixed bag. Over-emphatic with fitful tempi and muddy textures in the first movement, but then moving and beautifully shaped playing in the second.

He played two of Rachmaninov's Etudes Tableaux as to the manner born. Cresting the waves of the enormously elaborate writing with an instinctive understanding of their multilayered qualities and with superb understanding of where to place the climax of the pieces. Magisterial playing.

In her charming speech as she presented the finalists with their awards, Miss Brant thanked Symphony Hall for its help, and referred to the soloists as "celebrities of the future".

In a world which seems to care more about celebrity than artistry, these gifted and talented young people certainly deserve our support.

John Gough

The preliminary stage of this year's Brant International Piano Competition will be held on Saturday, 30 June at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street (9am), with the semi-finals at the same venue on Sunday (9.30am). The finals will be held at Symphony Hall on the following Saturday (July 7), with a 7pm start. (Details on 0121 644 5183)

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Sasha Grynyuk played Janacek's dark and disturbing Sonata: 1.X. 1905
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 24, 2007
Words:369
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