This performance of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto offered a neat contrast with Tsujii's. The Japanese pianist played with the orchestra, while Bozhanov played against it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; FWSO seemed pretty amped up. But I spent half the time at this performance thinking "This is too much" and the other half thinking "No, this is just the right amount." (Okay, maybe it was 55-45.) The score wasn't so much interpreted as ripped off in great bloody hunks. The Bulgarian played very loudly, and sacrificed the beauty of his tone. Sometimes you have to do that for the sake of drama and emotion. Bozhanov seemed to be calculating for the occasion, trying to win the competition with sheer volume. Then again, he cut loose with everything he had, and I can't help but admire that approach even when it fails.
In the end, it comes down to your musical preferences. Do you want a performer with an outsize, eccentric personality who imprints it on everything he plays? Or do you want a musical conduit who effaces himself at every turn? You need both types of musicians in the world. Together they show you the possibilities that music offers up. Bozhanov is one of the former, and you either go with this type of musician and accept some overindulgent performances, or you don't. I choose to follow him.
The crowd leapt to its feet and cheered this performance. As I was walking out, I heard someone say, "Very entertaining." That it was, undoubtedly. I'm not sure if it was any good, but it wasn't dull.