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Adrian Demian

Queen Elisabeth Finals - ups and downs of the second evening

May 22, 2012 at 9:48 PM

This was Tatsuki Narita's evening! When he started his Brahms I thought it would be a painful experience - and I still resent the fact that he played it so safe - but it turned out to be quite the contrary.
His interpretation of the Kenji concerto was the first one that made any kind of sense. I think even the orchestra members sensed that and played more with Narita as opposed to playing against the other finalists as was the case yesterday and today with Shin Hyun Su. Narita managed to project his sound, unforced, over the clumsily orchestrated piece, and his very exact, wonderfully articulated playing inspired the orchestra.
Narita's Paganini was absolutely brilliant! From the first notes his sound reminded me of Zino Francescatti: warm, sweet and full of solar light. Not only did he zoom with nonchalance and ease through the most fiendishly difficult parts, but he managed to make music and to have fun while doing it. A superb performance.
Shin Hyun Su really needs to learn how to use her vibrato. Her Brahms sonata was destroyed by an undifferentiated, excessive vibrato which blended phrases together like in a badly executed watercolor in the first movement, and segmented the lines in the second. I liked her energy in the third movement but here the vibrato made the sound quality suffer. The last movement of the sonata was an abuse to Brahms and the music. This music is not a virtuosity showcase and playing it as fast, loud and "in your face" as Su did showed only her lack of artistic maturity.
Su redeemed herself in Sibelius which was far more balanced and musical than the one we heard yesterday from Spacek. Maybe the beginning of the first movement was a bit fast, but she kept a steady tempo throughout the first page, which created the impression of strength and secure playing. It seemed it was also easier for the orchestra to follow her throughout the concerto. Su's choice of playing the last D of the second movement as a harmonic convinced me to never play it this way. It simply does not belong there: empty, metallic and cold, against the warm tone of the orchestra (but this is a different matter :D).
All in all, an interesting evening.

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