Queen Elisabeth Competition: deserved standing ovation for Elli Choi

Queen Elisabeth Competition: deserved standing ovation for Elli Choi
Queen Elisabeth Competition: deserved standing ovation for Elli Choi

New sensational entry, this Wednesday evening, with the American Elli Choi, 22 years old, ravishing in her blue silk dress, sequined floral bustier, hair pulled back, big smile. These Litanical Variations gain points with each version, undoubtedly thanks to an increased mastery of the orchestra, a growing familiarity with the work among the public, and, in the case of Elli Choi, thanks to an enthusiasm and a spirit of fantasy carried by immense means. His playing is generally powerful, the sounds brilliant, perfectly in tune, and the energy boundless. Escaich’s work finds with it a new face, particularly dynamic, dancing and free. Including in this “rendez-vous” sequence, suspended and meditative, preceding the abrupt coda.

Queen Elisabeth Competition: Karen Su unscrews in Brahms

A new sensuality for Shostakovich

After such an introduction, the Nocturnal from Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 introduces a completely different universe, open to the infinite and the unknown, and yet woven with nostalgia and buried pain. The writing is simple, Elli respects this simplicity while nourishing it with incredibly varied sounds, harsh, warm, silky or liquid, with a constantly renewed expressiveness. Something completely different with the Scherzo, very demanding, in terms of power, dynamics, with its ruptures, its accelerations, its contrasts; the young woman, who seems to dominate everything, nevertheless does not hesitate to expose herself to each measure, standing up to the orchestra which is sometimes clumsy and less mobile than her, and, miraculously, without crushing the sound (spontaneous applause, where will this stop?).

There Passacaglia is beautiful to cry, Shostakovich has nothing to do with it, of course, but here we touch the exceptional dimension of the musician, the richness of her proposals, the intensity of her commitment. The immense cadence at the end of the movement, gradually moving from desolation to frenzy, from sensuality to revolt, is a moment of collective astonishment – ​​like in a dream. And what about this finale – Burlesque – where the prodigious aura of the young woman will take on new proportions as the energy seems limitless, in maximum tension, almost inhuman, and yet, always inscribed in an incredible beauty. Standing ovation.

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