Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Cliburn Report 8: Here, There, and Everywhere

Jade Simmons
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[I will be covering the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June for 88.1 KDHX. Meanwhile I’m picking the best of the current press coverage for you dining and dancing pleasure.]

I'm a bit late with this one, but I have an excuse:  I had to write up and record a review of the tour of Anything Goes that's playing the Fox Theatre locally.  That's the disadvantage of being both a music and theatre critic.

Anyway, I’ve been concentrating on mainstream media outlets so far, but I don’t want to give you the impression that the blogosphere isn’t paying attention to the competition as well. Here are  a couple of recent examples:

Chang Tou Liang’s Pianomania blog has been covering the competition at least as assiduously as mainstream critics Scott Cantreel and Gregory Isaacs (see below). It’s interesting to compare their picks with his.

I have mentioned the fine job pianist Jade Simmons has been doing as host of the Cliburn live webcast. Her Emerge Already! blog is worth a look (and listen—it includes audio blog entries).

Giuseppe Greco
Photo: Ralph Lauer
Back on the mainstream media beat, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram continues its daily photo coverage of the competition, including both performance and backstage pictures from day 6 (May 28th).

Gregory Isaacs’s coverage for TheatreJones continues. His favorites from the first, second, and third Tuesday sessions were:
  • Nikita Mndoyants (24, Russia) – “The best word to describe his performance is ‘classy.’” Scott Cantrell liked Mr. Mndoyants’s Phase I recital quite a bit as well.
  • Giuseppe Greco (23, Italy) – “Giuseppe Greco is an anomaly. He is a fine pianist with remarkable skills who played an excellent program, yet he doesn’t command the kind of attention that some of the other, equally talented, pianists seem to attract. It is hard to understand why this happens. However, in listening to him play his second round program, we were constantly reminded of what a fine pianist he is.”
  • Oleksandr Poliykov (25, Ukraine) – “This was an exceptionally thoughtful performance” of Liszt’s arrangement of Isoldens Liebestod and Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, op. 5.
  • Nikita Abrosimov (24, Russia) – The pianist’s program of 20th-century Russian music included Rachmaninov’s Prelude in D Major, No.4, which Mr. Isaacs called “the most beautiful single performance of the competition to date.”
  • Vadym Kholodenko (26, Ukraine) – Mr. Isaacs was most taken with the Stravinsky’ Trois mouvements de Pétrouchka, a piece that has been popular with the contestants this year. “We have heard it played impeccably, note-wise,” he writes, “as did Kholodenko, but this was the first time the music came to life in all its delightful grotesquerie. He made faces, bounced on the bench in rhythm, hunched over, leaned into the instrument and generally had a grand time. He played the music, but he also played the intent, and that is a rare quality. Suddenly, this work stopped being an elaborate étude and became a piece of theater music.”
Oleksandr Poliykov
Photo: Ralph Lauer
Scott Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News singled out the following contestants in his morning, afternoon, and evening reviews:
  • Nikita Mndoyants – “Amid so much playing to impress, he again proved an unassuming, thoughtful musician.”
  • Giuseppe Greco – “a serious contender for the semifinals”
  • Oleksandr Poliykov - “opened the afternoon sessions with two of the competition’s most compelling performances so far.”
  • Vadym Kholodenko – Mr. Cantrell echoes Mr. Isaacs’s praise, especially of the Pétrouchka scenes, which was “the first of five performances so far to suggest the wit, whimsy and sheer weirdness of Stravinsky’s original ballet.”

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