It’s not easy for a conductor to put their mark on a Brahms symphony, let alone a conductor under 30. But Ryan did so, and marginally more than his co-finalists. His was a hearty performance of the Brahms’s first movement that revelled in the music’s rhythmic games without making a point of them, and flowed through its endless shifts in mood and colour with tantalising momentum. He put his stamp on the Nielsen too, giving us a cartoon-like reading of the ‘Dance of the Cockerel’ from Maskarade that induced titters from the audience.
It is heartening to see the prize go to a musician who has made his presence felt in this competition since its first morning, and in every possible way. Ryan receives €20,000, bookings from 24 orchestras around the world, three years of mentoring from Fabio Luisi and one year’s careers guidance from Jennifer Spencer.
He was in good company. Alessandro Bonato, who took third prize, mined deep into the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in the first movement of Brahms’s First Symphony, keeping a tight control on pulse and momentum. He have us a ‘Dance of the Cockerel’ full of detail and irreverence. In negotiating the first movement of the Fourth Symphony, Anna Rakitina, who took second pace, again induced the spontaneity in the orchestra that she has proved so adept at all week. She also took the Children’s Jury Prize, with Ryan taking the Audience Prize. In Malko tradition, the winner presided over a performance of HC Lumbye’s Champagne Gallop to finish. It was a little restrained by Ryan’s standards, but then, he did appear overcome with surprise.