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Van Cliburn Piano Competition

Critic: Cliburn Day 7 opens with joyful performance

Posted Thursday, May. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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What a pleasant way to begin a day!

Sara Daneshpour of the United States opened Day 7 of the Cliburn Competition with a wonderful performance of Haydn’s Sonata No. 23 in F Major that was a sheer delight all the way through.

Daneshpour has skill and taste, and she brought out the sense of joy that is so characteristic of one of music’s most psychologically sound composers. Papa Haydn is a cure for the blues.

Granados’ El Amor y la Muerte, something slightly offbeat for the Cliburn, was a bit more showoffy but well within bounds of taste. Daneshpour breezed through its dynamic passages to create an always lovely and often atmospheric sound picture.

Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7, a Cliburn standby, demonstrated Daneshpour’s virtuoso skills, especially with the propulsive finale that’s one of the hair-raisers of classical music.

Gustavo Miranda-Bernales of Chile, who was the innocent victim of several distracting incidents on Day 3, got through this one with a more attentive audience and quieter environment. No loud coughing outbursts or dropped heavy objects.

His Chopin mazurka was pleasant, and his Faure Valse caprice No. 2 was a nice and varied break from routine. The Schumann fantasy was less pleasing; it seemed to ramble on and began to wear out its welcome before the final notes.

The morning session concluded with a recital by Jie Yuan of China. Very pleasing was his inclusion of three Ligeti Musica Ricercatas, which ranged from jaunty to bombastic and left the impression the composer had tongue in cheek. Ligeti has had a bigger presence than usual in this Cliburn. Is his star rising?

Yuan’s program-closer was a pleasant presentation of Chopin’s 24 preludes, a highly varied set with some pieces that would sound familiar even to someone who never goes to piano recitals.

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