by Daniel Hathaway
Before beginning the Semi-Final Round which would bring eight pianists to the Gartner Auditorium stage in afternoon and evening sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, CIPC executive director Pierre van der Westhuizen invited the audience to treat the one-hour performances as actual concerts and “applaud and cheer” when they felt so moved, an invitation that produced interesting and varied results from the sizeable crowd.
Ruoyu Huang (24, China, left) was first to perform on Tuesday afternoon, beginning with French music — two Debussy Preludes and Ravel’s La Valse — then went on to Schumann’s Davidsbündertänze and Balakirev’s Islamey. Debussy’s Minstrels and Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest presented Huang with the opportunity to paint two different impressionistic scenes that might have been even more vivid had he brought out color and rhythm in the first and played with more sweep and legato in the second. His gloriously virtuosic reading of La Valse was suitably decadent with dramatic ebb and flow and his Schumann visited every emotional level from the dreamy to the passionate. His pianissimo playing was lovely. Festive and characteristic, Huang’s performance of the Balakirev — an unabashed showpiece without a lot of musical content — was a flight of sheer pianism. [Read more…]