The four finalists are doing all they can to impress the judges and make their mark on this special occasion. There is the award-winning performance of the commissioned work "Upsparkles" by the Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec.
Russian mystic Alexander Scriabin breaks free from 'sonata-form' with his "Sonata Fantasy in g minor."
Claude Debussy cuts loose from the forms he used in his first set of preludes when one of the contestants plays four of the twelve works from his second set from 1913.
It is nerve racking to compete head to head. In sports this is a fairly normal part of the job, but when it comes to artists, especially pianists, it is a big shift from the norm.
A musician's routine is quiet and predicable. You generally practice alone and it is here that you polish and learn, working on your fingering, phrasing and the little things that mean so much to you, but might not be even noticed by an audience.
I remember reading a legendary performer once say that no two performances are alike. When I starting studying the piano I recorded some of my practice sessions to hear how I was playing without the distraction of making the music.
The great musician was right, not only were all my repetitions different, I couldn't make my performances sound the same if I tried.
In the hurly-burly of a Piano competition there are selections that can make or break the chances of a competitor; pieces so difficult or dense that only a master musician can make them work for the audience and more importantly, the judges.
On the Piano this Sunday, we continue with music from the 2012 San Antonio International Piano Competition where two of the pianists "go big" in an effort to convince the judges that they have what it takes to be worthy of the gold medal.
Over the years of listening to the San Antonio International Piano Competition, I've noticed that nerves play an important part. Just enough, and a performance can be charged with excitement, too much, and disaster awaits.
With the competitors narrowed from 11 to eight, the stakes are higher, and that could help the judges separate the best as the competition continues.
I've seen contestants in piano competitions play some large and impressive works when trying to stand out from their other competitors. Big and difficult works like Liszt's "b minor sonata" or Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" are sure to get the judges attention, but there is also the fear of losing the audience.
It is not easy programming your first set at a competition. This week on The Piano, we visit more recordings from last October's San Antonio International Piano Competition.There are only two big and challenging works on the program.
We continue working our way through the preliminary rounds of last years contest. This Sunday, the music of Italian Domenico Scarlatti, a man who won a harpsichord "play-off" against G.F. Handel, and was so impressed by Handel's abilities that he always crossed himself when mentioning the composers name.
Scarlatti left Rome and moved to the courts of Spain and Portugal where he taught Queen Barbara to play harpsichord. Our "concert" starts with three of Scarlatti's sonatas.
Contrast really means something to those of us who enjoy classical music. The carefully constructed essence of music is the growth and movement between the various emotional plateaus of the composition. This is where the listener derives enjoyment, knowing that Beethoven, Stravinsky or Leonard Bernstein is in the driver's seat and that while we perhaps have a frame of reference for the adventure, we still don't completely know how the journey will proceed or end.
A wave of great young pianists crashes into the Alamo City every three years to compete in the San Antonio International Piano Competition. Last October 11, aspiring artists arrived and prepared themselves to impress the judges at the usual venue - the Ruth Taylor recital hall. Luckily for all of us it was all recorded by John Coker.