Day 3 Recital 3 (7.30 pm)
Sunday 26 May 2013
SARA DANESHPOUR (USA) is of Persian ancestry, so she probably does not qualify to be a NAALP (see the earlier reference to Lindsay Garritson). Also of refined sensibilities, her view of Schumann’s Abegg Variations (Op.1) was simply gorgeous because of her feathery lightness and silky evenness in the runs. Unfortunately, she ran into technical difficulties on the outset of Chopin’s elusive Fourth Scherzo in E major (Op.54) and that seemed to hang on like a dark cloud. Her selection of five Rachmaninov Etudes-tableaux (three from Op.39 and one from Op.33) - all in the minor key - was a good one which displayed her obvious technical abilities. I particularly liked her brooding account of the A minor number (Op.39 No.2), with its references to the Dies Irae, and which is sometimes nicknamed The Sea and Seagulls. I prefer to view it as an alternative Isle of the Dead. Standometer: *
My view: May not make it through, but I am still looking forward to her next recital.
GUSTAVO MIRANDA-BERNALES (Chile) is the only competitor from South America, and it is a tall order to stand under the large looming shadow of fellow-Chilean Claudio Arrau. Anyway, Gustavo is very much his own man, and anyone who chooses Schubert’s Impromptus Op.142 for a competition had better something important to say about the music. His is a somewhat wayward view, full of accents (misplaced or otherwise) and attempts to make his mark felt in places where others do not suspect. He is a showman, freely remonstrates with his hands and mugs for the camera with eyes of ecstasy and pain. His sometimes clipped and hectoring sound on the keyboard, sometimes punctuated with agogic pauses, is not for the faint-hearted. His Chopin Barcarolle is similarly broad and extravagant. As intimated earlier, he plays for the grandstand (and for himself), rather than for the jury. Standometer: **
My view: An interesting and unconventional pianist, but ultimately also-ran.
I am totally exhausted by the day’s proceedings by the time JIE YUAN (China) came on stage. I am still glad he did as he is the strongest of the evening’s three pianists. As one would expect, a man’s view of Schumann’s Abegg Variations would differ from a woman’s. His was less finely-hewn than Daneshpour’s, but more outwardly showy. His Haydn Sonata in C major (Hob.XVI:50, the same one as Luca Buratto’s) was characterised by lightness of touch and not a little humour, and for its finale of wrong notes, his exaggerations and surprise entries were more obvious. He just made sure that the audience got the jokes. The last work was the seemingly interminable Three Movements from Petrushka by Stravinsky. My sympathies for this show-horse have fallen so low that nothing from it seems to pique me anymore. Having said that, I felt Yuan gave a more interesting account than Taverna from the night before, and the audience also seemed to agree. Standometer: ***
My view: The first pianist to play a recital of works which have been already played. Does not fare badly in comparison, but let us see how his Chopin 24 Preludes go in the next round.
Wrap-up: An exhausting day with a mixed bag of pianists. Mostly a good day for the Asians, less so for the North and South Americans.