Kwun Hyuk-ju Wins Moscow's Paganini Competition
"Please, send remarkable talent," prayed jurist Itzhak Rashkovsky before the 2nd annual Moscow Paganini Violin Competition. Prayers were answered. Rashkovsky pronounced the event, which concluded with a December 1 concert in the Bolshoi Theater, "Outstanding, by all standards. Moscow is very lucky to have so many talents in one competition!"
First prize went to Kwun Hyuk-ju of South Korea (shown here). "First-class control and understanding," remarks Rashkovsy in a phone interview from London, of Kwun's performance of the Vieuxtemps Concerto No. 5. "A very special talent."
No second prize was awarded, but Yekaterina Frolova and British violinist James Lee shared third place. Frolova played the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in "typical Russian style." Lee displayed a "special temperament" in his first-ever competition, performing the Sibelius Concerto.
A special grand prix—the right to play a Stradivarius from the State Collection of Unique Musical Instruments for one year—was awarded to Alyona Bayeva, already a much-decorated Russian competitor. She chose the Shostakovich Concerto No.1 for the final round, a piece Rashkovsky describes as, "deeply philosophical, requiring physical and emotional stamina."
The Paganini Competition is a privately funded project of the Art of the Violin Foundation, established in 2002 by attorney and violinist Maxim Viktorov to support all aspects of violin art in Russia. Among its many projects are competitions, concerts, acquisition, and restoration of fine instruments for performers, scholarly research, and publication. The Foundation represents a recent influx of private support for the arts in Russia.