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Three Fine Performances Conclude Cliburn


by Olin Chism 7 Jun 2009

Well, it’s all in the hands of the judges now. Di Wu of China played the last notes of the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on Sunday afternoon and the judges retired to consider their decision, expected in an hour or so. The last day’s contestants didn’t make it any easier for commentators. Nobuyuki […]

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nobuyuki-tsujii-90

Van Cliburn Foundation/Altre Media

Well, it’s all in the hands of the judges now. Di Wu of China played the last notes of the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on Sunday afternoon and the judges retired to consider their decision, expected in an hour or so.
The last day’s contestants didn’t make it any easier for commentators. Nobuyuki Tsujii of Japan (shown above), Haochen Zhang of China and Wu all gave first-class performances (sometimes more than “first-class”) which didn’t include anything obvious that would drastically affect their standing.

Tsujii proved once again to be a natural musical dramatist with an exciting performance of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata. The finale was breathtaking. A gentle Chopin Berceuse was followed by Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, brought off with flair. The work is vulgar at times, but also fun and even kind of cute in places. I got a kick out of Tsujii’s personable performance of it.

Zhang’s Prokofiev second concerto, played with the Fort Worth Symphony and conductor James Conlon, was a virtuoso romp with touches of humor. I’d be hard put to choose between this performance and the superb account of the same concerto by Yeol Eum Son the afternoon before.

Incidentally, the quiet ending of the first movement was jarred by a cellphone ring. There simply is no way to put a stop to this sort of thing except by technological intervention. How about a petition to the FCC or whoever is in charge to allow electronic blockage of incoming and outgoing cellphone calls in public venues? The audience would be warned, of course, so anyone expecting a vitally important call could go outside and wait for it.

Block that call! Block that call!!

Wu finished up with the only Rachmaninoff third concerto of the competition. It was an exciting and respectable finish to 2½ weeks of music-making.

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