Tag Archives: Liszt

Franz Liszt: the calm before the storm

I was looking for an old recording of mine, and found this video from June 1, 2012. Since 2005, I have been on the jury of the San Jose International Piano Competition every June. The competition always opens with a gala concert from members of the jury. Among the selections I performed on this occasion are movements from the “Annes de Pèlerinage” (Years of Pilgrimage) by Franz Liszt. Two of these pieces are so incredibly contrasting, and placed right one after the other in the middle of the 9-movement suite. They are both about water, but the first is called “Au bord d’une source” (Beside a spring), and the second is titled “Orage” (Storm). The former is so wonderfully peaceful, lively yet infusing an inner calmness, brightly shimmering, glittering, the drone of spring water inducing the most pleasant of feelings; the latter is such an outburst of nature’s violent and fearsome might. Both beautiful in their own way, I think. The audio quality is not first rate, what with all the compressions. Nonetheless, I hope they’ll be enjoyable to whomever wants to listen!

 

 

Foto Santo Domingo

Van Cliburn

Foto Santo Domingo

Two years. It’s already been that long since our beloved Van Cliburn passed away. Aside from the geopolitical implications of his victory in the 1958 Tchaikovsky competition, which made him an American hero, why is Van Cliburn one of the greatest pianists of all time? After all, there are many others who played more concerts, made more records, had longer careers, a larger repertoire…

For me, the answer is simple. From the first time I heard his sound, I felt a real human being was speaking to me, baring his soul without mannerisms or sentimentality. A sense of purity, nobility, the perfect mix of the emotional and the rational pervaded his every phrase. I did not know much about him then, I did not even know what he looked like. Yet, when I met him many years later, he was exactly as his sound had told me he would be. A great human being who also happened to be a fantastic pianist.