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Joined: May 2001
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Rach 3 can't hold a candle to Beethoven 3. Talking about the concerti, not the performances. My apologies to Rach 3 lovers!

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Stephenson got an enormous response from the audience for his Gershwin Concerto. As predicted, it was a wonderful diversion from the warhorses. He seemed to have a great time on stage and once again demonstrated his audience appeal.

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What?! I just realized that Stephenson still has a Rach 3 to be played on Friday! I thought the Gershwin was his choice for the big concerto, haha!
Ok, then the Gershwin was the smartest choice ever!
Not that I'm a big fan of Rach 3, but many people are (including many of the judges, probably), so he'll make them happy with that. His program choices combine the usual warhorses with refreshing rarities (in competition context). Smart.


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Lim gave a worthy Beethoven read on the c minor concerto, full of vigor, forward fiery Ludwig, who in his middle period still has connections to the Mozart concerti (especially the d minor and c minor works). Lim played the Beethoven cadenzas and was a solid read. Fort Worth Orchestra responded wonderfully as partner and Marin Alsop shows why she is a top notch world class conductor.

Ilya Shmuckler got the big moments in the Rach 3 very well, but overall his conception was not riveting compared to others who have played this countless times. And a few missed notes, notably one blooper at the apex of the finale. His tone was suitably dark and forceful for this work, but not convincing to me overall. I would have preferred a bit brighter lyricism in the quieter passages.

Stephenson's Gershwin brought down the house, as expected. His jazz inflections were spot on, and the virtuoso bravura style playing was riveting. Not the cleanest performance, some smudged octaves, but nothing to really distract. Glad the Cliburn included this in their list of suggested concertos, this belongs here as much as Ravel's concerto does. The orchestra responded very well in kind. At least Clayton will have bookings next year for this concerto, a popular pops favorite.


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Although I like Gershwin, I found the Gershwin Concerto very boring and could not listen to it much beyond the first movement. Doesn't the piece lack both the technical difficulty and musical difficulty to be an appropriate competition concerto? I guess the competition organizers approved it, but has anyone ever played this in a big competition or is this the first time it has appeared on the list of allowable concerti?

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Some ups, a good share of downs, and an overall mixed night from everyone, IMO.

The biggest down is the livestream chat, which is horrible, toxic, and filled with know-it-alls and haters (haters gonna hate, but whatever). At one point, the moderator even pinned a comment telling people to be respectful and stop demeaning the performers. It really is the worst of the worst, even more so than your standard YT comments. I don't recall the Chopin competition being this bad, aside from the annoying "wrong note police."

Lim - solid, clean, and absolutely as secure as expected, but he didn't really ignite the piece. Maybe he was playing it safe to save energy for Friday? The first movement is hard to bring across and I felt that his interpretation was tame, leaving out many of B's accents and dynamics (same thing with the cadenza). In the second movement, the solo passages had some weirdly wrong rhythms. The Rondo was the best, and he ripped through lots of the technical stuff without breaking a sweat. Like others in the semifinal, I don't think he damaged his standing but also didn't greatly advance it.

Shmukler - I felt sorry for the guy. Either he wasn't expecting to play Rach before the Grieg, he didn't have enough time, or the pressure got the best of him, but there were lots of slips, including a few major ones in the finale where he was notes away from losing it altogether. There were points when I was thinking that his sound is more suited to orchestral playing than solo since he had the ensemble behind him and sounds less harsh than he did in some of his solo rounds. His overall style made more sense in this regard (aiming for a career playing with orchestras instead of solo recitals), but unfortunately there were many moments when he was simply not together with the orchestra, but that was MA's fault (move the stick faster, please). I still think Kamei was a better choice as a finalist.

Stephenson - A great performance of the Gershwin, even in spite of some smudges and a fair amount of ensemble issues (again, more the orchestra's fault than his, I don't think they were expecting to play it, MA didn't know it, and it really showed at times). It's a good but somewhat problematic piece: obviously derivative of Rhapsody in Blue in many passages but lacking the same charm, extra-long orchestral tuttis where the soloist sits there for minutes at a time smiling for the camera (the 2nd movement nearly omits the piano entirely), and extremely repetitive musical material that's tapped out quickly. He brought life to its fairly minimal solo part it and improvised on the material at times (as expected), and the audience ate it up. I'd say the first two movements were the most problematic in terms of cleanliness and ensemble, but he got his focus in the finale and ripped through it.

So, no one is clearly ahead (perhaps Lim by a nose hair). We'll see how the other 3 do tonight.

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I usually shut down the chat. Dont see what the interest might be to read or post.

I listened to Lim in the first mouvement. I agree and found the performance was fine, but that is about it. Rather secure but introverted.

Stephenson was good, but the orchestra not so. Overall It was lacking some fire and spirit. An average performance all in all.

Curious that MA is both the chair and conducting the orchestra.


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Originally Posted by Brendan
I agree that the Gershwin will actually end up being an advantage - a perky, bright concerto after two rather dark ones, not to mention that it plays to his technical strengths and musical style. Also, Beethoven 3rd isn't the hardest or most exciting concerto (don't flame me, I've played it with orchestra a few times and it's harder to get a reaction out of the audience than #4 or #5), but I'm sure Lim will play it beautifully. I can already imagine Shmukler's Rach 3 but hope to be proven wrong.



I am a bit surprised that we are not seeing a performance or two of the 4th concerto, it does feel that would be the go to at this point in the competition. I saw someone was going to do the 5th concerto(my personal obsession), and would love to hear that at the Cliburn.

I am a bit behind, I didn't get to watch it live last night. It was date night for me and the wife, and we had a movie night. She usually let's me watch these things, but I figured after me butchering some piano that day she needed a break from music.

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So after watching many performances I have one question...is it me or is just the audio off? not enjoyable, I can't quiet place my finger on it....I know in the past year I developed a bit of tinnitus and I have wondered if that is affecting my overall enjoyment of these things, but something feels rather lackluster about what I have been hearing. I got some Sony SCS5 bookshelf speakers running into my PC, and some EQ, but even when I switched to headphones same thing.

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Yeah, there have been audio issues for the whole competition - mics not feeding in for the presenters, piano not mic'd appropriately, etc. Some were saying that they want people to sign up for Hyfy for better audio (not gonna happen, but whatever).

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Originally Posted by Brendan
Lim - solid, clean, and absolutely as secure as expected, but he didn't really ignite the piece. Maybe he was playing it safe to save energy for Friday? The first movement is hard to bring across and I felt that his interpretation was tame, leaving out many of B's accents and dynamics (same thing with the cadenza). In the second movement, the solo passages had some weirdly wrong rhythms. The Rondo was the best, and he ripped through lots of the technical stuff without breaking a sweat. Like others in the semifinal, I don't think he damaged his standing but also didn't greatly advance it.

Hum... I don't remember some weirdly wrong rhythms in the second mvt., but I'll go back and count strictly, haha. Maybe he was being too free? I was much more positive about it as it streamed live than when watching a replay of the 1st mvt. Beethoven 3 is a little difficult to "bring off" as a performance because the orchestra is so blustery, and the soloist is left with very thin, horizontal textures to play. But I still think Lim was marvelous.

A friend I was texting with during the livestream of Clayton more or less chastised MA for not being very well-prepared for the Gershwin. Clayton "carried" that performance very well, indeed!


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As some of mentioned something seems wrong with the sound. I have the volume on max but everything seems much softer than a normal video.

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I don't know how many of you are reading the YouTube chat, but I have to assume there are at least a few of you. To make things more interesting for you, I've put together:

2022 YouTube Van Cliburn Chat Bingo

[Linked Image]

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As some of mentioned something seems wrong with the sound. I have the volume on max but everything seems much softer than a normal video.
I have an equalizer for my chrome browser and it definitely helped to get a more listenable audio, but even then i had still noticed something about it.

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Originally Posted by Mooseknuckle
I don't know how many of you are reading the YouTube chat, but I have to assume there are at least a few of you. To make things more interesting for you, I've put together:

2022 YouTube Van Cliburn Chat Bingo

[Linked Image]

Better then my drinking game! I am too old to survive it and my liver thanks you!

Honggi's Mustache deserves its special prize! The Cliburn Stache Prize for best stache in performance goes to....

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As some of mentioned something seems wrong with the sound. I have the volume on max but everything seems much softer than a normal video.

Yes! Isn't there a "premium" livestream available with better sound than the free version? If so, Ugh!

I find the piano sound curiously unbalanced with orchestra, and the orchestra unbalanced with itself. I keep feeling Shmukler must sound much better in the hall live.

I see that audio comment is on the bingo! ha ha


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In the past years, even the CDs I bought from the Cliburn competitions have issues. They were barely audible.

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Originally Posted by Mooseknuckle
I don't know how many of you are reading the YouTube chat, but I have to assume there are at least a few of you. To make things more interesting for you, I've put together:

2022 YouTube Van Cliburn Chat Bingo

[Linked Image]

Haha, spot on. Last night someone was bragging about how they played with Alsop...peak cringe.

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I'm assuming that Steinway is a NY Steinway.
Hence my next statement

Have been listening to many live and replays of the competition.

But there is nothing, I repeat, nothing like Gershwin on a NY Steinway.
It seems to come alive.

Just watched the replay.
Wish there were a tiny bit more of this included.
JMHO

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Originally Posted by brdwyguy
I'm assuming that Steinway is a NY Steinway.
Did the Steinway have square cheeks? I think both NY and Hamburg now have the rounded cheeks that used to be only on the Hamburg models, so I don't know if there is a way to tell the difference by physical appearance on newer models.

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