Bruges Competition

As you probably know, on Friday 18th May at 9.00 the Bruges Competition of Harpsichord will start.
It is possible to listen and see to the three-days first round, as it will be streamed at the website (you can set an alert if you wish). The first round is totally online, with each participant sending 4 videos for his or her 4 pieces program. Semifinals and finals in August, in person.

The program is restricted to very few titles, so you’ll listen to the same pieces again and again.

Here is the schedule:

Here are the regulations:

Jury and short schedule: Harpsichord | Ma Festival | Musique Antique | Brugge

Usually the winners of past editions became among the very top harpsichordists, so it will be interesting to hear and see.



Thanks for the link to their live youtube stream. I’ll look to catch some of the action over the weekend.

Have just read that in the forthcoming Bruges Harpsichord Competition the Jury’s president will be Korneel Bernolet. Whether or not he is one of our members, I am not pleased. Let me explain why.

Five years ago there was a discussion on Facebook (was it in the HARPSICHORD group?) over arpeggios in baroque keyboard music.
I quoted some conclusions from my “Playing the Baroque Harpsichord” book, where I treat arpeggios in just two pages. One could hardly devote more in a 262pp. book encompassing most baroque performance features.

Bernolet, without any concrete objection to any of my points in those 2 pages, replied that my treatment was very superficial: his only argument was that I had quoted only a handful of sources (actually about a dozen), while he was doing research on this very matter for his PhD and had found already more than 50 sources on baroque arpeggios.

I find that Bernolet had no right to be dismissive, comparing 2 pages in my general 262pp. book against his specialised treatment … which five years later is still not available! I just read in his CV that his project is still pending, and I could only find by him half a page on the matter.

Let us hope that he is more impartial as a chief judge in Bruges.

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@CDV, what do you expect? It the toxic, ephemeral, cesspool of facebook. My views are well known. A typical sort of comment.

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I am always reminded of the truly marvellous comment by Kuhnau is his own preface to his Klavierubung:

Let him who dares criticise show forth yet better.

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The first round saw some excellent playing - from the 69 competitors!

The jury settled on these 12 for the semi-finals:

Nicolas Aubin

Rodrigo Belío

Lucie Chabard

Mélanie Flores

Cristiano Gaudio

Dmytro Kokoshynskyy

Davor Krkljus

Josef Laming

Elizaveta Polianitskaia

Maciej Skrzeczkowski

Gabriel Smallwood

Theophane Zins

I am told that of these 12, nine are studying at the Schola Cantorum in Basel.

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I found it interesting that none of the numerous Asian competitors made it to the semifinals. It was wonderful to see and hear so many fine instruments!

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I agree that there were a lot of fine instruments - and a lot of fine players!

These things are very hard for the jury to agree on, and at a certain level, rather subjective. Most of my preferred players went through to the semi-finals, but a few didn’t. Similarly, a couple of the semi-finalists were not to my liking!

I did enjoy listening to a few of the Asian competitors. One of them in particular is someone whose career I’ve been following via YouTube. He has improved SO much in the last year and I’m sure he will do well in future competitions.

Yes. I haven’t heard all of them, maybe less than half. Thay are all too fine for me to tell who is the best. I have two or three preferences, one of them has passed to the semifinals (he is French).

Is it possible to draw any big picture from these three days? What I noticed is:

  1. most used baroque fingering for Frescobaldi, less so for Bach and Scarlatti, however no “pianistic” fingering. Good.
  2. Notes inégales in Couperin (where appropriate), sometimes a bit “rigid”, but usually played in a fairly subtle mode.
  3. No “metronomic” playing, however keeping a strict rhythm.

All very good. There are a number of great harpsichordists, today. May I add I have heard in many players a too much legato touch in Scarlatti. But it’s only my personal taste.


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I can’t find any link on the MA website to the videos. Is the live stream material no longer available?

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Here they are. They are 8-9 hours long, each.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:


Thanks for sharing these, Domenico!


All right, Roberto!!


Thank you very much Domenico.

There’s a vast wealth of material here. Everybody will have their own opinion, but putting my players hat on I was surprised to see how tight all the players are. They are clearly playing for a competition and terrified of making a wrong note or slip. Especially with Couperin I believe one must be totally relaxed and even nonchalant. I’m not hearing that, too much stiffness and a lack of freedom, which I sure Couperin would want.

I will say that on Day One the players that meet my concept of free and relaxed playing are Arianna Radaelli and Josef Laming.

It’s very refreshing to hear lots of pretty good harpsichords too.

More to say later!

Does anyone know why Francesco Melani was performing with gloves on? It might be a medical condition, but thought I’d ask in case there was another reason.

I’m told that the Bruges semi-finals and finals will NOT be put on YouTube. Such a pity as I would love to hear more from these players.

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Has any reason been given for not doing this? Do they want to encourage people to buy a recording later?