Preliminary Rounds (Phase Two)
Day 5 Recital Two (3 pm)
Tuesday 28 May 2013
As before OLEKSANDR POLIYKOV (Ukraine), impressed with the way he tried to vary his sound palette. He is one pianist who does not attempt to overwhelm with sheer volume, instead working his way through the music’s silences and resonances. As a result, his Wagner-Liszt Isoldes Liebestod meandered its way ever so achingly into the final climax, and sometimes one wondered, “Is she done yet?” The monumental Brahms Third Sonata in F minor (Op.5) did not have the shattering climaxes one would have expected. In fact he was just a bit too gentle, but I did get to enjoy the two slow movements, the 2nd and 4th which are thematically linked, the latter a short reminiscence (hence entitled Ruckblick, or look back) of the former. Standometer: ***
My view: Nice work, if you can make it.
KUAN-TING LIN (Taiwan), I felt, played better this time, even if Schumann’s Humoresque (Op.20), a work in multiple linked movements, seems overly discursive to bring out in competition. He provided very good contrasts, a svelte cantabile for its opening and slews of running notes elsewhere, and no shortage of volume, something that seemed missing earlier. His run of Stravinsky’s Three Movements from Petrushka, a work I have learnt to dread since the start of this competition, was technically the least accurate of all that has come, but he had a number of interesting ideas which had me piqued. I rather enjoyed the ride when there was not much to lose anyway. Standometer: **
My view: His work is done here. Thanks for the memories.
NIKITA ABROSIMOV (Russia) continues to impress, especially by playing to his strengths in an all-Russian programme. He started with three Rachmaninov Preludes from Op.23. The sardonic laugh of the D minor (No.3) was well contrasted with the smooth singing voice in the nocturne-like D major (No.4) before closing with the maelstrom of the C minor (No.7); this was a short but very well thought-out selection. Then came the Prokofiev Eighth Sonata, which had everything the efficient El Greco had lacked earlier. Oh, the Russians know how to brood and this one did so with great vividness and imagination. The running notes had a thrilling edge which was missing previously, and the irony – so typical of this composer – came by the bucket-loads. The perpetuum mobile finale capped a magnificent performance that showed how two note-perfect readings could sound so different. Interpretation is the key to the world of classical music. Standometer: **1/2
My view: The first of my definite semi-final picks for today.