Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nobuyuki Tsujii (semifinal recital)

Okay, so it wasn't the chamber music performance that exposed Tsujii's weaknesses, it was the semifinal recital. He started out with John Musto's Improvisation & Fugue. He's the only contestant playing this fast, scurrying piece, and he brought the same crispness and articulation from his first-round performance to this thing. He did all right there.

The trouble popped up in his other item, Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata. It sounded entirely too much like everything else he's played. There's too little variability in his frequently shallow tone, and some of the loud high notes came out downright harsh. He took the second movement way too fast, and while he took the third at the right pace, his tone was lacking the refinement that you hear from the best Beethoven players. The structure was all over the place, too. Simply, he doesn't understand the music (not that you'd expect any 20-year-old pianist to understand the "Hammerklavier"). Clearly, playing it was a gamble that backfired. If the judges put Tsujii in the final, they will be ignoring his performances and voting for the blind guy. And this undeveloped but talented musician deserves more consideration than that.


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  2. Interesting....the opposite of the nearly unanimous opinion over at the Cliburn blog discussions. I have to wonder if the blindness, similar to how some may be predisposed to admire his performance, might also predispose skeptics to focus on negatives. Personally I found this Beethoven far superior to the one played by Kunz yesterday. It wasn't perfect, but I wouldn't expect it to be.

  3. It is just funny. I know you hate Tsujii no mater how he plays. But this is ridiculous!!!

  4. Were you even listening?

    And all you can say about the Improvisation and Fugue is that it is fast and scurrying? Did you hear it?