OK, maybe not Schumann-fatigue. Yeol Eum Son of South Korea played Schumann’s Fantasiestücke at Tuesday night’s final session of the preliminaries of the Van Cliburn Competition and in her hands the pieces sprang to life with a vividness that made them seem important and interesting.
Neither hail nor heavy rain put a damper on her program in Bass Performance Hall, which was consistently pleasant. The opening movement of Haydn’s Sonata in C, Hob. XVI:48, was elegantly played and the finale was a joyful romp.
The convincer was Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody. Son milked it for all the art it contained and produced sheer physical exhilaration where art was missing. If I have to listen to this piece again, I want it to be Son playing it.
Mayumi Sakamoto of Japan brought the preliminaries to a close with a program of Bach, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. Her playing was solid and often elegant, but didn’t seem to rise above the general level of competence that’s characteristic of this field.