by Daniel Hathaway
On Wednesday, with the moment of decision only hours away, the last four pianists in the semi-final round stepped up to the Hamburg Steinway in Gartner Auditorium to vie for a slot in the final round with The Cleveland Orchestra on Friday and Saturday night.
Annika Treutler (23, Germany) assembled a program of Haydn, Hindemith, Scriabin, Chopin and Liszt for the afternoon’s opening set. Her elegant phrasing, graceful but forceful technique and fine sense of musical line and architecture touched everything she played. Only subtle shadings of color and dynamics differentiated each of Haydn’s f-minor variations from the other. Hindemith’s Suite “1922”, a piece parodying popular dances of the era — which the composer later advised his publisher not to bother to reprint — was far more eventful as Treutler navigated her way through its Marsch, its gloomy, atonal Shimmy, its thick-textured but later sparkling Nachtstück, its waltzy and rhetorical Boston and its uptime Rag, which sported a huge ending. Scriabin’s op. 13 Preludes were by turns rumbling, wistful, ornate and powerful. Treutler played Liszt’s reworkings of Schumann’s songs, Widmung and Frühlingsnacht with grace and agility, and Liszt’s own Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8 with characteristic spirit. The audience enthusiastically applauded after each item in the set. [Read more…]