by Mike Telin
Nina Yifang Hu (14, USA) kicked things off with an engaging performance of Liszt’s “La campanella” from his Grandes études de Paganini, which she followed with a nicely-shaped and well-voiced rendition of Chopin’s Nocturne No. 8 in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2. Hu was in her element during Liebermann’s Gargoyles, Op. 29, playing with sensitivity and wonderful technique.
Maxim Lando (12, USA) began his program with a commanding performance of the first movement, “Allegro ma non troppo,” from Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 14. His interpretation of Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23 was filled with emotion, and he was simply brilliant during Horowitz’s Variations on a Theme from Carmen.
Natasha Wu (14, Taiwan/USA) chose the first movement “Largo-Allegro” from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (“The Tempest”) to open her enjoyable program. During Liszt’s “La campanella” from Grandes études de Paganini, Wu played with a lovely sound and controlled technique. She made easy work of Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38, and she ended with a secure performance of Prokofiev’s Toccata in D Minor, Op. 11.
Bon-Hwi Kim (13, South Korea) opened his delightful program with two sonatas by Scarlatti, K. 380 in E Major, and K. 24 in A Major, both of which were played with secure technique and thoughtful phrasing. Kim brought nice dynamic contrasts to the fast and furious Etude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 10, No. 4 (“Torrent”) by Chopin and well-shaped melodic lines to the composer’s Nocturne in D-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2. A stirring performance of the first movement from Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 14, brought Kim’s set and the morning session to a conclusion.
Avery Gagliano (13, USA) started off the afternoon session with a beautiful, well-paced performance of the first movement “Largo-Allegro” from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (“The Tempest”). She brought a musically flexible interpretation to “Gnomenreigen” from 2 Concert-Studies by Liszt. Her playing of Ginastera’s Danzas Argentinas, Op. 2 was dazzling.
Junhao Wang (13, USA) played with beautiful tone during Chopin’s Scherzo in B-flat Minor, Op. 31, No. 2, which opened his program. He followed with an assured performance of Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1.
Jae Hong Park (15, South Korea) began his portion of the afternoon with a wonderfully- controlled presentation of Mendelssohn’s Fantasie in F-sharp Minor, Op. 28, which he followed with an engaging performance of Granados’s “Los Requiebros” from Goyescas, Op. 11.
The final contestant in the Junior Division was William Yang (13, USA), who began with a nuanced interpretation of Schubert’s Impromptu in B-flat Major, D. 935, No. 3. Yang was in full command of Prokofiev’s Sarcasms, Nos. 4 and 5, Op. 17, and he concluded with an emotional performance of the tenth etude, “Allegro agitato molto,” from Liszt’s Études d’exécution transcendante.
Llewellyn Sanchez-Warner (18, USA) set a high bar for the second round of the Senior Division with his mesmerizing account of Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor, Op. 48, No. 1. He brought a huge, explosive sound to Rachmaninoff’s Études-tableaux, Op. 39, No. 9, and he highlighted the playfulness of Ravel’s “Alborada del gracioso” from Miroirs with maturity and grace. He concluded his excellent program with a strong performance of Liebermann’s Gargoyles, Op. 29.
Jiacheng Xiong (18, China) kept that high bar in place with his rousing and clean presentation of Chopin’s Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 7 (“Toccata.”) Beethoven’s Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3 made up the remainder of his program, and his performance was terrific, both technically secure and musically nuanced. The second movement “Scherzo” and the final “Presto” were highlights.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com May 18, 2015.
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