Hearty congratulations to Polish guitarist Mateusz Kowalski, who was victorious in the finals of the 2nd annual EuroStrings Guitar Competition, held July 21 at King’s Place in London. You gotta love the internet: I was able to watch the finals on a sunny morning in the comfort of my home in Northern California thanks to a livestream of the event, and, for what it’s worth, I agreed completely with the judges’ ultimate decision! Young Mr. Kowalski, (b. 1995) was spectacular during his half-hour program, which included Barrios’ Contemplación, Ponce’s short Scherzino Mexicano, the interesting and challenging modern set piece for the competition—Nicolas Kahn’s Les Arcanes, winner of last year’s EuroStrings Composition Contest—and most exciting of all, the concluding version of Giuliani’s Rossiniana No. 1, which was truly breathtaking! For his efforts, Mateusz takes home €8,000, and he will also be booked for a number of concert dates next year in Europe, the U.S., and China.
I felt the other three finalists also acquitted themselves very well: Yuki Sato of Japan excelled on Regondi’s Deuxieme Air Varíe, Giulia Ballaré of Italy was strongest in my view on Turina’s Sonata, Op. 61, and Italy’s Simone Rinaldo was particularly dynamic and powerful on Ginastera’s Sonata, Op. 47.