Listening to the local classic fm station in Dallas (WRR owned by Dallas council on 101.1MHz) I realised that the Van Cliburn International Piano competition was under way at the Bass hall in Fort Worth. The group of 30 entrants had been reduced to 12. Each semi finalist has to play a 60 minute solo recital AND a 40 minute concert as part of a quintet. This results in 8 three recital sessions in 4 days.
Ever since coming to North Texas I have wanted to attend a concert live so, having some free time, now was the time. I was surprised to look at 1000 saturday morning, online, that tickets for the 1330 session and the 1930 session were still available, so tickets were booked.
Its only an hours drive to Fort Worth so a slight diversion to a Texan pre-concert lunch was arranged to the Railhead BBQ in West Fort Worth. Central Fort Worth was traffic chaos as its the school graduation ceremonies were in full flow at the Fort Worth Convention Center, but there is a free car park across the road from the Bass performance Hall.
My seat was in the middle of a group of female Cliburn devotees who would be attending ALL sessions, so a lot of things that I had never worked out listening on the radio to the previous 4 competitions were explained.
In the afternoon session Clare Huangci (USA) did a recital including Schumann Symphonic Etudes op 13, Beatrice Rana (Italy) in her Chamber piece did Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, op. 44 but the highlight was Nikita Mndoyants (Russia) who included a brilliant rendition of Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition. All competitors have to include the commisioned work "Birichino" by Theofanidis. I didnt realise till they interviewed Theofandis that the Cliburn competition take his score and remove all markings from it before the competitors see it so they have to interpret it, which makes 30 variations the composer gets to hear (no they cannot email him and ask him questions).
The concert lasted until 1645, so hunger started to set in, the 2nd session started at 1930 so I decided to go to PF Changs restaurant, just up the road from the concert hall and just have a Banana spring roll and Ice cream desert while watching Ice hockey on the TV.
The evening session started promptly at 1930. Nikita Abrosimov (Russia) in his chamber recital did Dvorak Piano Quintet in A Major, op. 81 followed by Tomoki Sakata (Japan, ONLY 19) solo recital which included Debussy Études, Book I and finally Vadym Kholodenko (Ukraine) did Franck Piano Quintet in F Minor in his chamber concert.
I enjoyed the afternoon session much more than the evening session, but I have never really enjoyed chamber pieces. After the concert finished the graduation ceremonies were still going on so we enjoyed a firework display
I got back to Plano at 2330, a long day! The good news is that ALL concerts are being streamed over the internet at cliburn.org so I can hear the other 6 competitors and track progress