Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lukas Vondracek

The heavens opened up while we were on break, and judging by the clouds immediately to our south, it might not be done raining.

Lukas Vondracek (pronounced LOO-kash von-DRA-check) hunched over the keyboard as he raced through a decent but unexciting performance of Bach's Italian Concerto. He followed that up with two Chopin nocturnes and Liszt's "Harmonies du soir" ("Harmonies of the Evening"). All of these pieces were beautifully played, and Vondracek didn't miss the dramatics in the Liszt piece. His primary strength is as a colorist, though, and we've got better ones in the field. That's the trouble with the competition format: If you heard his performance in isolation, you'd say it was perfectly nice. Here it seems inadequate.

He finished with three of Smetana's Czech Dances. (Vondracek is scheduled to play Czech music in every round. That's representing your country.) He could have used a bit more grit in the "Furiant," but his "Skocna" brought his program to a lively conclusion and drew repeated curtain calls. I wish I could have shared everybody's enthusiasm.

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