Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wu Di (Concerto II)

The best concerto performance of the finals. When I first heard this pianist I pegged her as a "cool, objective colorist." Clearly I spoke (or rather, blogged) too soon. She played the only Rachmaninov Third Concerto in this round, a change from four years ago, when four of the six finalists played it. Her performance was richly colored and resonant, though that was to be expected. What I didn't expect was the passion she put into this work that's far more emotionally direct than anything else she played before. The big swells in the second movement were volcanic, the quiet moments were rendered with glowing beauty, and the coda was an expression of unfettered joy. (After the music ended, she got a bouquet of roses from an admirer in the front row, and immediately gave one of them to Conlon. How nice is that?) She impressed us in the early rounds with her brilliance, but in this performance she opened her heart and overwhelmed us, and if this was her game plan from the start, it worked beautifully. What a way to end this competition!

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