Here's the list of competitors (including age and nationality) for this year's Van Cliburn Competition:
Ms. Lilian Akopova, 21 (Ukraine)
Mr. Ning An, 28 (Ooltewah, TN)
Mr. Giuseppe Andaloro, 22 (Italy)
Mr. Stephen Beus, 23 (Othello, WA)
Mr. Sodi Braide, 29 (Nigeria/UK)
Mr. Davide Cabassi, 28 (Italy)
Ms. Jie Chen, 19 (China)
Ms. Sa Chen, 25 (China)
Ms. Ying Feng*, 28 (China)
Ms. Grace Fong, 26 (Temple City, CA)
Mr. Davide Franceschetti*, 28 (Italy)
Mr. Alexei Grynyuk, 27 (Ukraine)
Ms. Chu-Fang Huang, 22 (China)
Ms. Mariya Kim, 23 (Ukraine)
Mr. Alexander Kobrin, 25 (Russia)
Ms. Marina Kolomiytseva, 25 (Russia)
Mr. Alexey Koltakov**, 26 (Australia)
Ms. Soyeon Lee, 25 (S. Korea)
Ms. Ang Li, 20 (Canada)
Mr. Albert Mamriev*, 30 (Israel)
Ms. Gabriela Martinez, 21 (Venezuela)
Ms. Maria Mazo, 22 (Germany/Russia)
Mr. Alexandre Moutouzkine*, 24 (Russia)
Ms. Esther Park, 20 (Little Ferry, NJ)
Mr. Roberto Plano, 26 (Italy)
Ms. Daria Rabotkina, 24 (Russia)
Mr. Ilya Rashkovskiy, 20 (Russia)
Ms. Elizabeth Joy Roe, 23 (Aurora, IL)
Ms. Rui Shi, 21 (China)
Mr. Rem Urasin, 29 (Russia)
Mr. Xiaohan Wang**, 24 (China)
Ms. Di Wu, 20 (China)
Ms. ChenXin Xu, 23 (China)
Ms. Joyce Yang, 19 (S. Korea)
Mr. Andrius Zlabys, 28 (Lithuania)
A good many of these folks are familiar faces and fingers from the competition circuit.
Who does "Well-Tempered Blog" like? There are three Italians and one American we're looking forward to following at the competition:
Roberto Plano; Davide Franceschetti; Davide Cabassi.
Roberto Plano is a likely candidate for the gold. Here is Plano's website. Check out the audio links on his site! He has already demonstrated solid musicianship and technique of a major talent at other competitions (Busoni, Iturbi, Cleveland). But he would not be our first choice. To the ears of "The Well Tempered Blog" his musicianship has a ways to go yet before ready to claim the gold at the Van Cliburn despite wins elsewhere.
Franschetti created a splash last time around, but doubtful he'll finish first but will likely make the finals. Well Tempered Blog is less certain that he has what it takes for the long haul, so we'll be watching/listening for a strong showing of musical depth along with pianistic dash.
Cabassi commands a robust and mature musicianship, and his formidable technique is always lead by it. His playing has been rightfully likened to that of Radu Lupu. If "The Well Tempered Blog" were judging, Cabassi would win our nod for 1st place.
A long shot to watch out for is Stephen Beus. He very well could pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, and may likely as not make it to the finals.
Of course there are many other young pianists in the mix we've not heard. And that always makes for delightful surprises.
Here's a very nice run down on the rest of the competitors and some thoughts on their chances. Van Cliburn Competitors.
Don't forget to sign-up for the live audio and video from the competition online here.