Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amy J. Yang

The Chinese-American pianist, who bills herself with her middle initial (which stands for "Jiaqi") came out in a glittery orange dress and flat sandals. Except for her and Kudritskaya, all the other female contestants have worn heels. I've always wondered how you work the pedals in those shoes. Is that easier or harder? Is that like driving a car in heels?

She started with a lively, crisp reading of Bach's French Overture, and then finished with Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze, which means "David's Club Dances." The David's Club was Schumann's name for his circle of friends, whom he imagined as Davids fighting the Philistines of the musical establishment in his time.

(Schumann wrote a lot of music specifically about his friends. If he were around today, he'd have a MySpace page and would constantly chatter with his friends through their pages, and music critics would call them all an insular bunch of poseurs, though the smarter critics would notice that Schumann's music was pretty good.)

Anyway, Yang's Bach performance was good enough to make me consider placing her on my personal list of semifinalists I'd like to see, but her Schumann made me reconsider. Not that it was bad; her tone was consistently beautiful, and her pacing was all right. However, she didn't have the emotional depth that we've heard from other Schumann interpreters in this round like Michail Lifits and Andrea Lam. By that standard, she falls short. Oh, well.

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