Jan/Feb 2018: First Looks: Recordings

First-Looks
 Nyman: Complete Piano Music Jeroen van Veen, piano Brilliant Classics 95112 [Total Time 1:50:45] brilliantclassics.com Prolific Dutch pianist-composer Jeroen van Veen presents all of Michael Nyman's existing solo piano music. Many will recognize Nyman (b. 1944) as composer of the soundtrack for the 1993 award-winning film The Piano, and—of th...
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Cliburn 2017

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Every four years, piano fans gather in Fort Worth, Texas, for one of the piano world's biggest parties: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At this year's Cliburn—the fifteenth—Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, earned the Gold Medal. Although a native of South Korea, Sunwoo has degrees from Curtis and Juilliard (and, yes, he played the Rach 3). The S...
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Our woman at the Cliburn: He was robbed

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Author's Note: Like so many of you, I watched the June 10 Cliburn finals online. (My daughter was graduating from high school on June 10. I can't imagine why the school district didn't plan around the Cliburn.) God save the child whose piano lesson followed little Georgy Tchaidze's. Georgy has his own. And he was robbed. Certainly, all six finalist...
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Our woman at the Cliburn: Judgment is nigh

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"Dies Irae." Judgment Day. In Fort Worth, that day is tomorrow, June 10, when, at the end of the three-week Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, final judgment will be passed on the six finalists. How apt, then, that, in Friday's night concerto round, American Kenneth Broberg performed Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43....
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Our woman at the Cliburn: Brahms triumphant

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There's good, and there's Brahms. The Franck F-Minor Quintet and the Dvořák Op. 81 in A Major allow pianists to display their chops, but, baby, when Brahms enters the room, other composers might as well step aside. It takes intellect as well as musicality to play the Brahms Op. 34 Quintet in F-Minor, and Cliburn finalist Rachel Cheung possesses bot...
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Our woman at the Cliburn: Exposure on the concert stage

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Performing Mozart is precarious business. The pianist who tackles a Mozart concerto—in public, no less—is a brave person indeed.  To play Mozart is to risk exposure; so many things can go wrong. Miss a note, and there is no thick, Romantic, bulwark of harmony to cover your mistake. Minimize the shading, and the scalar passages sound like click...
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Our Woman at the Cliburn: Dvořák. And More Dvořák.

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How much Dvořák is an innocent listener expected to endure? Quite a bit, apparently, at least if the listener is attending this year's Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The competition has moved into the final rounds, and each of the six remaining contestants joins the Brentano Quartet in the Cliburn's chamber portion. The finalists coul...
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More Than Just the Notes: An Interview with Sean Chen

Attendees of the 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy will have the exciting opportunity to hear guest artist Sean Chen—a brilliant pianist who was the first American in sixteen years to win an award (the third-place Crystal) at the 2013 Van Cliburn competition. Among his many other accomplishments and honors, Sean was also awarded the 201...
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The drama and desperation of the world's most famous piano competition

​Eight years ago, someone in Tel Aviv slid a letter under the hotel room door of Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky. A professor in the piano department at Juilliard, Kaplinsky was in Tel Aviv as a juror for the Rubinstein International Piano Competition. The other jurors received the same letter. When she opened the envelope, she was horrified. The letter atta...
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Diverse and above suspicion: Creative juror selection for the future

It's a good thing I wasn't planning a leisurely Sunday coffee and croissant. June 9 was the last day of the quadrennial Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and, as a visiting critic, my afternoon and evening were packed with activity. The last finals round finished around 5:30 p.m. I hotfooted it ten blocks to my hotel room, wrote a blog p...
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The 2013 laureates: A Cliburn Wrap-up

The Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition ended with the results many observers had predicted, with the gold medal going to a self-assured Vadym Kholodenko, 26, of Ukraine. He delivered a series of impressive performances throughout the seventeen-day contest, several of which had the audience whooping in appreciation, including me....
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