Federico Colli wins £18,000 piano contest

Federico Colli The pianist's recital was dubbed "masterly"

Italian Federico Colli has won the Leeds International Piano Competition, one of the world's most prestigious music contests.

The 24-year-old played Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, accompanied by the Halle Orchestra, to take the title.

The competition's founder, 91-year-old Dame Fanny Waterman, announced the £18,000 prize in Leeds Town Hall.

Held every three years, previous winners include Andras Schiff, Radu Lupu, Artur Pizarro and Ashley Wass.

Sofya Gulyak was the competition's first female winner in 2009.

Colli, a native of Brescia, is instantly recognisable by his curly hair and his luxuriant cravats.

He previously won the 2011 Salzburg International Mozart Competition, and toured Germany with the Klassische Philharmonie Bonn.

'Play with a mission'

Speaking after his award-winning performance on Saturday, pianist Kathryn Stott called him "totally amazing".

"He completely reinvented The Emperor," she told BBC Radio 3's Petroc Trelawney. "It was fresh. He's a superb pianist.

"He came out to play with a real mission, and he's a really popular winner."

Fellow pianist Benjamin Frith added: "It was a winning performance. He came on and he meant business. It was masterly."

The runner-up was Swiss pianist Louis Schwizgebel. Raised in Geneva, he is a student at the Juilliard School in New York. Ms Stott described his performance of Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 as "very stylish".

Third prize went to Jiayan Sun (China), fourth to Andrejs Osokins (Latvia), fifth to Andrew Tyson (USA) and sixth to Jayson Gillham (Australia).

The performances can all be heard again on the BBC Radio 3 website. Coverage of the competition will also be broadcast on BBC Four from Friday, 21 September.

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