Friday, May 29, 2009

Zhang Haochen (semifinal recital)

The kid didn't get off to the best start. He couldn't seem to take his foot off the pedal for the early Chopin Preludes. It was only when he played No. 8 that the performance suddenly shifted into focus, and after that he was generally better in the dark, stormy minor-key preludes (especially Nos. 16, 18, 22, and 24) than he was in the cheerful major-key ones, though he also gave excellent accounts of Nos. 17 and 23.

Then he played White Lies for Lomax, and though he couldn't match Lam for command of the piece's American qualities, neither was he completely adrift like Bozhanov. He tried to compensate with sheer volume when he wasn't sure, but he was still much closer to the former than the latter.

He finished with Liszt's Spanish Rhapsody, giving a drier, more pointed account of it than either Stephen Beus or Son Yeol-eum in the prelims. I would've said "tighter," but he dithered a bit too much in the slower portions of the piece. Even so, he gave the piece the proper panache and confirmed what we already knew about him: This is an exceptional young talent. Let's see what else he can do.

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