Competition's Ageless Drama

Aleksei Takenouchi concedes it would be nice to win the $100,000 grand prize, but he is glad just to have the chance to play the piano competitively again.

Takenouchi, a 39-year-old Diamond Bar resident, is beyond most international piano competitions' age limit of 32 to 35. But the Ivo Pogorelich International Solo Piano Competition, held in Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium the first two weeks of December, places no upper age limit. Pianists must be at least 21.

One of Takenouchi's 20 students urged him to enter, and he was among 42 pianists selected from 130 entrants representing 15 countries. "I'm very excited," he said. "It gives me the chance to prepare myself again for a competitive level."

Takenouchi was a finalist in a 1981 New York competition and entered one in Salt Lake City a few years ago. His playing was too "individual" for judges, yet also one of the most interesting performances, he recalls a newspaper review saying.

There is standardized playing, where the pianist adheres strictly to the original interpretation, and there is the style Takenouchi prefers--where "the interpreter thinks more about what the music means to him in that period of time," he says.

Takenouchi will perform selections by Leopold Godowsky, Bach and the composer he most admires, Beethoven.

"If you're nervous (while playing in public), his music burns away that emotion," he says. "You get involved in the dramatism of the music."

The Pogorelich competition will have three rounds and six finalists, culminating in an awards ceremony Dec. 16.

Admission ranges from $9 to $12 for Stage 1, $15 to $20 for Stage II and $24.50 to $27.50 for Stage III. Tickets for the awards ceremony are $20 to $40. The daily competition schedule and ticket information are available at the Ambassador Ticket Office; (818) 304-6161 or at 1-800-CONCERT.

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