Friday, 31 May 2013

Direct from THE CLIBURN / Preliminary Rounds (Phase Two) 30 May 2013 Recital 2

Preliminary Rounds
Day 7 Recital Two (3 pm)
Thursday 30 May 2013

FRANCOIS DUMONT (France) again appears the most mature of all the contestants. His whole demeanour seems to rise above and beyond the rough and tumble of competition; he is already a fully-formed artist who just happens to be playing a couple of concerts in Bass Hall while a competition is taking place. He is Mr Cool, like most Frenchmen tend to be. That is the feel I get in Debussy’s Estampes, one of few Debussy pieces programmed in the Preliminaries. Everybody wants to play Gaspard (Dumont included) but in his hands, the anti-virtuoso impressionist numbers truly ring out with colour, from the delicate tinkles of Pagodes, the sultry atmosphere of Soirees dans Grenade, to the patter of rain in Jardins sous la pluie. His Chopin Third Sonata was outstanding, breathing music from every pore. When you hear this warhorse in his hands, you do not think of a competition, but rather a recital where a close friend pours out his heart to you in his art. Standometer: ***1/2

My view: Does someone like Dumont need a competition? He should already be playing around the globe.  


Of all the Chinese pianists (Chinese-Americans included) in this competition, RUOYU HUANG (China) strikes one as the most human of them. Everything he does sounds heartfelt, even if it isn’t the most technically clean or accurate. I would hear his Schumann Fantaisie (Op.17) any day, because of its sincerity and genuine depth of feeling. Sure he struck wrong notes in the treacherous quick passages leading up the second movement’s octave leaps, but I would rather have these frailties than Carmen Miranda’s ultra-correct feints. The slow movement to close was warmth and reassurance itself. He added two Debussy Preludes – the stormy What The West Wind Saw and a somewhat heavy-handed Minstrels – before closing with the Preliminary round’s only Balakirev Islamey. His conception of its opening rhythm sounded unusually clipped, but still finished with a flourish. Standometer: ***

My view: He may not proceed, but I’ve enjoyed much of his playing.


YURY FAVORIN (Russia) has the most unusual programming in the entire competition, and that may be his undoing. Competition juries often stick with tried and tested repertoire, and mostly fear the unknown, especially when they don’t know or play those pieces themselves (or are unable to). For this round, he chose four movements from Liszt’s Harmonies poetiques et religieuses, two of which are very well known and two hardly ever performed. In Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude, I felt the opening could be smoother; this is the ultimate study in marrying left hand melody with right hand filigree. He generated a huge sonorous climax towards the middle, something he does well also in Funerailles. As with the chord laden Pensees de mort and Cantique d’amour, he makes me want to find out more of these spiritually inspired works. His playing is thunderous, and I am looking forward to his Alkan in the next round, that is if he makes it. Standometer: ***

My view: He’s done enough to make me root for him

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