Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mariangela Vacatello (semifinal recital)

She comes out in the same outfit she had in the prelims (red dress with matching bow in her hair). If she was wearing the same dress because she thought it was lucky, it didn't work. The semi was a bit of a comedown.

She started with the fourth version of the Liszt Sonata in B minor that we've heard so far, and though it was solid and occasionally beautiful, she couldn't match the theatrical fire that we heard from her compatriot Deljavan in this piece.

All the Cliburn pianists play one of four contemporary piano pieces by American composers pre-selected by the jury, and she chose Daron Hagen's Suite for Piano, picking herself up a bit from the Liszt. She was especially good in the lyrical middle movements, the "Sarabande" and "Aria," and pointed in the faster outer movements.

Her Scriabin selections weren't up to scratch, though. She played an undistinguished Nocturne for the Left Hand, and while she kept the melody together (no easy feat amid the piece's wide-ranging arpeggio accompaniments for the same hand), it was more of a technical achievement than anything else. She then concluded with the composer's Third Piano Sonata, and while it was tonally gorgeous throughout, this work needs to be explosive and molten. Based on what we've seen of Vacatello so far, I don't think she does "molten," though she got somewhere close to where she needed to be at the very end. Not a well-chosen program, really. That's disappointing, but maybe she'll be better in her chamber music selection later on.

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