Thursday, 29 January 2009

12th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition DVD (2005)


Director: Andy Sommer
Presenter: None
Conductor: James Conlon

What happened: The invasion of female Asian pianists. Three make it to the Grand Finals, an unprecedented feat.

Who won: Alexander Kobrin (Russia)

Also ran: Joyce Yang (Korea), Sa Chen (China), Chu Fang Huang (China), Roberto Plano (Italy), Davide Cabassi (Italy), Maria Mazo (Russia/Germany), Jie Chen (China), Xiaohan Wang (China), Ning An (China), Ying Feng (China), Rui Shi (China), Di Wu (China), ChenXin Xu (China), Elizabeth Joy Roe (USA), Grace Fong (USA), Soyeon Lee (Korea), Ang Li (Canada), Mariya Kim (Russia), Gabriela Martinez (Venezuela) and others.

Narrative techniques:

Cuts to the chase by going straight into the semi-finalists. Four pianists – Kobrin, Yang (left), Cabassi and Mazo - are featured in expense of all the others. For example, Rem Urasin who appears on the dramatic DVD cover gets no air time at all.

Lots of soft focus scenas accompanied by music, not unlike some Playboy video.

Montage: None

Best quotes:
“Music develops your emotions actually faster than they should be. That’s why when you are 8, you can express emotions which normally you do it at 18.” Maria Mazo

“I go out there thinking I have something to say, and you have to listen to me.” Joyce Yang

“My friends are usually not musical. I am not part of the gang.” Davide Cabassi

Worst quotes:

Interviewer: If your piano was a person. How would you describe it?”
Davide Cabassi (left): “Oh, like a beautiful woman. Blue eyes, curly forehair, nice body, very sensual to touch.”

Interviewer: "What do you think makes you different from these other 5 finalists?"
Davide Cabassi: "I am the most beautiful."

John Giordano says: Nothing

Best moments:
Maria Mazo
(left) in Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, and impresses the hell out of juror Menahem Pressler.

Davide Cabassi does his best Andrea Bocelli impersonation, by playing much of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata with his eyes closed.

Alexander Kobrin in Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody.

Joyce Yang in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.2, a performance which should have been reproduced in full instead of short dismembered fragments.

Cringeworthy moments:

Alexander Kobrin riding piggyback on the bear-like Cabassi. “Competitor love” declares Joyce Yang. Their apparent camaraderie is annoyingly overplayed, and the Fort Worth Star Telegram journalist even suggests homoerotic overtones.

Joyce Yang and her father are almost like total strangers in their limo trip to the finals.

Van Cliburn appears for: 1 minute 41 seconds

Extras: 36 minutes worth, including an interview with Veda Kaplinsky, Joyce Yang’s teacher, who speaks about the rise of Asian pianists. The jury holds a public forum and Claude Frank raises more than a few laughs.

Aftermath: Kobrin, Sa Chen and Jie Chen all get to play in Singapore. Roberto Plano (left) judges at the Singapore National Piano Competition 2007, his first concours sitting on the opposite side.

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