Thursday, June 4, 2009

Van Cliburn Competition update

I will be posting articles about the Van Cliburn Competition, because I'm am attending it as an invited member of the press. Last night I heard the first concert in a series of six. Mariangela Vacatello, a 27-year-old pianist from Naples, Italy started things off with a piano recital of Bach's Italian concerto in F major, BWV 971, Chopin's Rondo in E-flat major, Op. 16, Ravel's "Gaspard de la nuit", and Shostakovich's Prelude and Fugue in D-flat major, Op. .87, ,No. 15. In Vacatello's hands, the Bach was precise, understated, and genuine, Chopin crisp, and the Ravel very evocative. She ended her recital with a rollicking Shostakovich. The audience rewarded her with sustained applause and I think that they took three bows.

Bulgarian pianist Evgeni Bozhanov (age 24) played Chopin's Piano concerto No. 1 in e minor, Op. 11 with the Fort Worth Symphony under the baton of James Conlon. Bozhanov gave a spiritied performance of this work. I wasn't entirely convinced of his pianissimos and I think that he could've lingered here and there a bit more, but everything else was pretty outstanding, and the audience applauded vigorously right after he finished.

Di Wu, a 24-year-old pianist from China performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19 with the orchestra under Conlon. I liked her enthusiasm for the piece, but her playing seemed a little out of control. The audience responded to her with warm enthusiasm.

Tonight, I'll hear three more pianists, including the 20-year-old blind pianist from Japan, Nobuyuki Tsujii.

If you are curious about these pianists and the their competitors in the Van Cliburn Competition, click here.

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