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High Competence as Cliburn Prelims Near End


by Olin Chism 26 May 2009

Tuesday afternoon’s music-making at the Van Cliburn Competition was consistent in its high competence though interest varied a bit. For me, the most satisfactory was the program of Kyu Yeon Kim of South Korea. She opened with Haydn’s Sonata in C, Hob. XVI:48, whose first movement was beautifully, eloquently done and whose second (there are […]

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Tuesday afternoon’s music-making at the Van Cliburn Competition was consistent in its high competence though interest varied a bit.

For me, the most satisfactory was the program of Kyu Yeon Kim of South Korea. She opened with Haydn’s Sonata in C, Hob. XVI:48, whose first movement was beautifully, eloquently done and whose second (there are only two) was a burst of sheer joy. Her Schumann Kreisleriana produced a variety of moods, all poetically realized, though the close juxtaposition of two long Schumanns (there was another earlier in the session) does test one’s patience. This made the concluding three Bartók Etudes a very welcome change of pace.

Yoonjung Han, also of South Korea, opened with probably the most performed Haydn sonata of them all, in E-flat, Hob. XVI:52. The middle movement was lyrically played, but Han seemed to be aiming for the record books with the opening and closing movements, both of which zoomed along at warp speed. It is impressive that she could do it, and play them cleanly. Chopin’s Fantasy in F minor was vividly played, though there seemed to me to be slight exaggerations of tempo, dynamics and pauses. “El Amor y la Muerte” from Granados’ Goyescas was a colorfully played and quietly closing finale to Han’s recital.

Amy Yang of the United States and China had two works on her program: Bach’s French Overture in B minor and Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze. The Bach was vivid and often lively if not exactly true to Baroque practice. I liked the lyric gift and good taste displayed by Yang in the Schumann, but I couldn’t keep my attention from wandering at times. Maybe I’m suffering from Schumann fatigue.

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