The jury of the Pierre Fournier Award hands out no main prize but two Incentive Grants in the prestigious cello contest at Wigmore Hall
There were insteresting results at today's Pierre Fournier Award for cellists at Wigmore Hall, where the jury held back the main award and gave two Incentive Grants, each worth £1,000, to Jonathan Dormand and Valentino Woritzsch.
Founder and Honorary President Ralph Kirshbaum explained the decision as he announced the results: 'The distinction between this as an award and not a competition is that we're looking for an artist we'd happily go and see perform an entire programme tonight. Thrilled as we were about so many aspects of each of the players, we didn't feel we had such a duo. There was great talent on display and you will all do well, but this is not about future development, it's about what we feel now.'
Having listened to the finals today, it seemed a fair and sensible outcome, however disappointing for the performers – there was a palpable sense of anticlimax in the room at the announcement. The four finalists – Dormand, Woritzsch, Christine Lee and Laura van der Heijden – all played well, and had different and strong personalities, and different strengths, but none of them was that full, consistently compelling, whole, yet. Dormand is a fine and thoughtful player, for whom everything works securely and easily, but sometimes he's a little too objective. Worlitzsch takes imaginative risks but his sound can be a little wild. Lee made a lovely, varied sound and took risks but perhaps veered towards idiosyncracy at times. Van der Heijden is perhaps the most natural of the four (and had a superb pianist in Petr Limonov) but, at only 17, she has areas that need to be honed. As someone in the audience suggested, if you put them together you would have the perfect performer.
No doubt, comparisons will be made with the Tchaikovsky Competition not awarding first prize, with people complaining that it's not fair not to award first prize to the best player. But in this case there's a clear argument that the criterion for the award was not met. However, the standards were high and no doubt each of the players will do well. Indeed, a feature of this and cello competitions was the distinctness of the musical personalities – often in violin contests it's hard to find this. As Kirshbaum pointed out, 'The cello is alive and well.'