Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Cliburn Chatter: Play it as it lays

A few thoughts this morning on the Cliburn.

I intended to write about this yesterday, but then that would mean calling this the "I really should be practicing" blog --to borrow from the title of Graffman's book.

Two of the finalists I look forward to hearing are: Davide Cabassi and Alexander Kobrin.

I'm keen on Davide Cabassi' playing, but to my ears Kobrin has made a strong case for himself. Kobrin's playing may not be to everyone's liking, but it is I think a bracing tonic to the world of over-wrought performances and silly stage antics. I should think he would make a fine gold medalist.

Carl Tait, who writes the in-house commentary for the Cliburn, has apparently decided to re-consider his assessment of Kobrin. Previously Tait had this to say about Kobrin:

"I find his playing the chilliest and most calculated of anyone in the competition. I was so repelled by his Rachmaninoff Etudes-tableaux that I nearly had to leave the concert hall. Afterwards, I was almost physically ill and could hardly speak."

And earlier invoked the name of "Pollini" in speaking of Kobrin's Schumann.

But it's not the name of Pollini that comes to mind to these ears. It's names like Berman, Backhaus,and Richter that come to mind. I think there is something of the architect in his playing. Perhaps that's off-putting to some. But I think it is a grand architecture he fashions, one of fire and ice. You can hear some more of Kobrin here.

Roberto Plano could get the nod. But to my liking, he would be the safe pick, the least offending or controversial. I hear plenty of beauty in his playing, but nothing that so far sounds singular. Open to persuasion though.

Sa Chen is a also someone to watch. Maybe she's the dark horse in this race?

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