Friday, May 22, 2009
Well, hot damn! I saw this tall, bespectacled American pianist (whose last name rhymes with "deuce") four years ago when he competed at the 2005 Cliburn, and this afternoon's performance reminded me why I liked him. Stephen Beus' performances of Bach's English Suite No. 3, Barber's Piano Sonata, and Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody were bright, sharp, clean, articulate, and intelligent, just like his Chopin and Debussy from four years ago. In addition, he produced torrents of sound during the Barber sonata, showing that a muscularity that wasn't in evidence in 2005, and an ability to hold together a large-scale work. And then he absolutely smoked the Liszt piece, bringing the auditorium (about 3/4 full, as opposed to half full during Kudritskaya's performance) to its feet. I think the standing ovation is overused generally, but here it was well deserved. The guy's got flair and showmanship now to go with all his other musical gifts. We're only two competitors in, and already it looks like we have a winner. I like how this is going.