On a colder day and slightly drier day today we heard the last 5 competitors, we made our Da or Niet selections from all 15 players, the judges in surprising concord, and after lunch in the rather serious staff dining room of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire we made the announcement to the participants.

There are some really original talents there, most of the best of them are teenagers too.

There is one competitor who we gave a special prize to already, some money. He has faced seemingly unsurmountable difficulties to achieve a beautiful level of playing and has developed ears like a bat’s. He is Vasiili Belyavin from Sverdlosk up in the Urals. He is unable to see, and he asked me to talk with him after the results to give him my impressions.

He speaks beautiful English and is obviously highly intelligent. I told him that my impression of his playing was that he was listening so sensitively that he maybe didn’t realise how he needed to use the room and play to its 4 corners. I have spent some time since he played yesterday mentally putting myself in his shoes and imagining not know where the jury where (on the balcony) how many people were in the hall (30 in 600 seats) how far away the edge of the stage was (2 feet only). No wonder he sounded a bit timid, but he is a wonder anyway. He doesn’t have access to Braile music but learns from repetition through his teacher.

Kyeong my student is through, which is great. His style is very different to many others here, more Mercedes, but he is a star and I am so proud of him. I will wait to see whether I am allowed to vote for him in the following rounds. Today he was one of 6 who got 5 votes out of 5 judges to go through.

We took 10 out of 15, which was generous, I felt, but its good to give a chance to the players who habve prepared the whole repertoire. Tomorrow the 3 jury from outside Russia are giving masterclasses for the people that didn’t get through, it was judged unfair to teach still current competitors. There is, however, a major party from Belarus, and some huge young talents not even in their teens. I was there last year and it was something extraordinary I experienced. Such warmth, such talent. Some of them will also play tomorrow, which I really look forward to.

I was so happy when an adorable little girl who I met there came up to me today and literally flung her arms around me kissing my hands. She is all of 11. In the UK, child services would be alerted, here, gentle smiles from her watching Mother.

The horn jury have been scandalous! Horn is going on concurrently to us, sadly without the Chairman, as I reported earlier, but with champion Bassoonist Valery Popov as Chair. Apparently one judge, a professor here, told his students not to learn the prescribed work (itself the winner of a competition) because it was terrible. Chaos ensued but somehow they seem to be through it. Its always potentially volatile here, which makes life interesting!

I learned today that for the finals the Oboe and Horn juries were to combine. I complained loudly about this as I feel that our Oboe jury is bonding well, discussing priorities, sharing ideas, and finding common ground. Adding a gallery of horn players will change the chemistry completely and I am against it. Luckily the committee agree and it won’t be like that.

I had a wonderful walk around Moscow this evening, which was looking clear skied and getting colder, in the footsteps of Stanislawsky, gazing in awe at the Bolshoi and gasping at the madly expensive clothes shops, followed by dinner with Mr and Mrs Nodel and Laszlo and lots of vodka. Hoping to sleep well. I really love this city.