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    Archive for May, 2009

    The Right Choice?

    Friday, May 22nd, 2009

    Probably the most important decision any of the 29 pianists in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition can make is the choice of which instrument they will play in the series of performances. has an interesting story about one of the competitors, Washington state’s Stephen Beus, exploration of the three available pianos.  Did he make the right choice?

    For those unable to attend the Competition, live internet braodcast of all recitals is available for the first time this year at  Follow the link there to download the Silverlight program that will allow you to view the broadcasts.

    Several bloggers, including Portland’s own James McQuillen, will keep us informed as the Competition progresses.  Natacha Kudritskaya, a 25-year-old Ukrainian pianist drew the first position and will begin her recital at 1:00 local time today.  Beus follows her at 2:05.

    Arnaldo Cohen Encore

    Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

    For those interested in the encore at Sunday’s recital featuring pianist Arnaldo Cohen, it was Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho by Ernesto Nazareth.  My score translates the title loosely as I’ve Got a Cavaquinho.

    According to Wikipedia, “The cavaquinho (pron. /’ki.ɲu/ in Portuguese) is a small string instrument of the European guitar family with four wire or gut strings.”

    Those wishing they could hear Arnaldo Cohen’s version again are in luck.  Here is a YouTube clip featuring the great pianist, obviously playing the Nazareth after a concerto performance with The Utah Synphony.

    This link will take you to David Stabler’s review of the unforgettable recital.  Stabler is Classical Music Critic for the Oregonian (Portland, Oregon).

    ….runs rings around Lang Lang

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

    Those are Peter Dobrin’s words from his review of pianist Arnaldo Cohen’s Philadelphia recital in November of last year.  Yes, he is talking about technique, and goes on to say that “ precisely because technique is such a firmly settled question in Cohen’s playing, he was able to draw attention to so many other lovely aspects of his persona.”

    “He’s a stylish musician, though not a mannered one. He’s powerful but not percussive. He emphasizes organization and structure, though the freedom of his tempos breaks through when it serves an expressive purpose.”

    Cohen plays two recitals in Portland next week and also leads a master class on Saturday evening at Sherman Clay/Moe’s Pianos.  Check the PPI website for program details and for information about the master class.

    He features Liszt’s B Minor Sonata on both Sunday afternoon and Monday evening here. Back to Dobrin for comments on the Liszt: “It’s a Cohen signature piece, one of those matches between player and repertoire in which one seems to complete the other. And again, the technique, as impressive as it was, receded in relation to the more important feat of uncovering musical meaning.”

    Arnaldo Cohen is one of the giants of the piano world.  His understanding of inner lines and textures in music and his sense of structure is remarkable.

    You can find Dobrin’s Philadelphia Inquirer website - - review here.

    Ft. Worth Countdown

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

    The world’s most important piano competition begins this month in Ft. Worth, Texas.  The 30 pianists selected for the Preliminary Round beginning May 22nd  through 26th represent an incredibly high standard.

    One pianist not in the starting lineup dominates the Ft. Worth news this week, and you can read all about 12- year-old Lewis Warren Jr. in this article from the Dallas Morning News.

    Warren is definitely doing his part to spread the word about classical music, and he has the secret of all successful musicians;  ” ‘He sees his talent as a gift to share,’ said his mom.”