Coming to this competition at the stage of the concerto finals, having missed all the preliminaries, solo recitals and chamber music sessions, I am in no position to predict winners.

Six finalists have been chosen by the panel of seven distinguished judges under the direction of Piers Lane. Whichever of these young pianists wins the grand prize ($50,000, plus concerts, a tour and a recording), the judges will take into account more than just the concerto performances presented here.

This section of the competition requires each finalist to choose from a given list one piano concerto written prior to 1800, and one written after 1800. There is a $5,000 prize in each concerto category, and another for Best Overall Concerto.

The three pianists heard tonight have all attained the highest level of technical expertise. They have been practising their scales for the whole of this century, more or less. Uladzislau Khandohi was born in 2001, Yungyung Guo in 2003. Critical evaluation is therefore not about technique. Virtuosity is a given. Rather, it is about choices, personal presence, relationship with the orchestra, and stylistic matters.

The concertos were accompanied by the classical-sized Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Umberto Clerici (Principal Cellist of the SSO...