Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wu Di (final recital)

Just like she did with the Clara and Robert Schumann pieces in the semis, she played the first two pieces with no applause break between them. This time it was Bach's Toccata in F-sharp minor and Schoenberg's Klavierstucke. It takes nerve to program Schoenberg at any stage of the competition, and especially in the finals. (I would have been even more impressed if she'd chosen Schoenberg's Piano Concerto.) The Bach was played with precision and momentum, and the Schoenberg with great purpose, especially in the final piece. However, Ken Iisaka, sitting next to me for this session, noted that she missed quite a few notes. He's more familiar with this piece than I am, so I'll take his word.

Di Wu was our last shot at a satisfying Gaspard de la Nuit, and she came closer than anybody else did. I didn't need Ken to distinguish the measure she omitted from the early going of "Le gibet," which featured the repeated B-flat note throughout the piece being played in an atypically dry manner. The various renditions of Gaspard this year have all been missing the element of black magic, and Di Wu supplied it in spots, like the big swell of notes at the end of "Ondine," representing the mermaid taking her rejection (in a huff, judging by Wu's rendition) and swimming away. The pianist was at her best in "Scarbo," evoking the presence of the evil creature in spine-tingling fashion. This made me forgive some of the inexactitude in the piece's many leaping configurations. I wonder if fatigue is starting to get the better of Di Wu. We'll know more after her concerto performance tomorrow.

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