Balázs János, winner of the Music International Grand Prix New York and audience favourite

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The finale of the Music International Grand Prix took place in the early evening (Central European Summer Time) on 20 March, where our very own Kossuth Prize-winning pianist won first prize in the category ‘adult piano’ and was voted ‘audience favourite’ among the winners of all categories. With this, he has had the first Hungarian victory in the competition’s history. CDs compete at the multi-round, highly acclaimed music contest. Still, the competition’s prestige is demonstrated by the personal on-site performance from the albums as well, as the jury is also curious about the artist’s ability to play the given compositions in person. János Balázs’ album ImprovisArt released by the London-based music label Sheva was shortlisted first among the competition’s finalists. The members of the jury were all well-known experts in the music industry. The last part of the final round was held in the Kaufman Music Center, while the award ceremony took place at the gala concert on Saturday.

János Balázs compiled his programme under the title ImprovisArt for the György Cziffra Memorial Year, which he performed at concerts worldwide to commemorate György Cziffra’s 100th birthday. The same programme features on the album published by Sheva and continues the Romantic tradition of pianists and composers’ improvisation and re-arrangements of famous operas and songs. You can enjoy Bach and Liszt’s works and György Cziffra and János Balázs’ transcriptions on the album, reflecting the 200-year-old tradition where the performer becomes a genuine partner of the composer. The musical imprint of this process is the 73-minute-long album featuring 13 pieces, streamed on Spotify and in Hungary, available from the distributors.

“My CD, ImporvisArt, only figures works, which are no piano pieces in the conventional sense but exclusively re-arrangements, similarly to Ferenc Liszt and György Cziffra, who would be keen to play re-arrangements of known compositions. From this point-of-view, I might have seemed unique among the contestants. By the way, five of us were shortlisted for the final round. I’m delighted that Liszt, Cziffra’s and my transcriptions featuring on the album and other compositions I played have won the favour of both the jury and the audience; besides the 1st prize, I was also voted as the audience favourite.” (János Balázs)

The Hungarian music magazine Gramofon comments on the album:
“János Balázs’ interpretation map is wide; its unique characteristic is that it can be considered as a three-dimension mountain range, where the peaks nearly touch (…) The CD offers 73 minutes of sheer flow and joy. You can easily listen to it from beginning to end (partly thanks to the varied and choice order) or just cherry-pick one piece or another and get immersed in it by playing it again and again.” (Katalin Fittler –