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.
Visitors to the Alamo were greeted by some mid-day busking (street performing) yesterday morning. Dotan Negrin has been hauling his upright piano all across the country for more than two years, performing on streets from New York to here in San Antonio.
Parked illegally next to the Alamo, Negrin unloaded his Baldwin piano from a fire-engine red van.
The compact upright piano has a laminated map velcroed to one side showing all the places Negrin has gone on his travels.
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.
In classical circles, a piano quintet is almost always one piano and four instrumentalists (string or wind). The Five Browns are literally a piano quintet -- five Juilliard pianists -- and all family -- two brothers and three sisters! Since being dubbed the "Fab Five" by People Magazine, they have been featured on Oprah, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, Today, and The Tonight Show.
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.
Groundhog Day recital includes Brahms' Piano Pieces, Opus 118
On Saturday night, Andrea Lam returns to the stage where just four years ago she was awarded the Silver Medal in the San Antonio International Piano Competition. Lam will play Mozart, Brahms, and a new work by the Australian composer Nigel Westlake. "He has done some classical composing, but he has also done some movie scores. I really love his harmonic language, and he really incorporates a lot of rhythm in his music as well."
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.
Tuesday, January 22, Joyce Yang will return to San Antonio for a piano recital. She has played with the San Antonio Symphony, collaborated with violinist Augustin Haedlich, but this time will be solo at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church. Her program has music by Beethoven, Chopin, Bartok, and Rachmaninoff.
"The Second Sonata is a great example of that passion on the verge of hysteria. It is unusual Rachmaninoff in many ways - it was edited several times, and can seem schizophrenic!"