by Daniel Hathaway
Saturday afternoon’s session (the longest of the round with six players) opened with a meditative reading of J.S. Bach’s Prelude in b-flat (WTC I) by Nino Kotrikadze, followed by a deliberate and well-articulated fugue. The rest of her program was devoted to a vivid excursion through the many vicissitudes of Schumann’s Kreisleriana. Both dramatic and poetic moments were given an attractive haze of pedal (the composer would have approved), and Kotrikadze made major events of its climaxes. Her tendency to play big added color and passion to Schumann’s already eventful narrative, though a few outbursts of sound seemed out of scale. She played some furious passagework late in the piece with impressive technique.
Qi Xu is only 18 and small in stature but he plays with mature authority and command. He has an excellent feel for musical architecture and brought clarity of touch and a sure sense of rhythm to his performance, but while his technique is up to the task, his tone at this point in his career seemed a bit underpowered for Brahms’s third sonata, the single work on his second round playlist. Lines sounded thin at the treble end of the keyboard, though his left hand was strong at the bass end. All his performance needed to be completely satisfying was more weight of sound. [Read more…]