June 4: Day four of the semifinal round, part two, of the Cliburn International Piano Competition: Yutong Sun, Honggi Kim, Yuri Favorin and Georgy Tchaidze
The evening of day four brought the performance of four more Mozart piano concertos with the Ft. Worth Symphony under the direction of Nicholas McGegan. Kudos to the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra who have not only played beautifully throughout, but have not shown any weariness from playing the same concertos over and over. They will be tested one last time tomorrow night, the last night of the semifinal round, when we will hear two more versions of each of the 20th and 21st concertos by the last four competitors. Then the jury will make its decision on which six contestants will move on to the final round.
First up was 21-year-old Yutong Sun from China who performed the Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466. Yutong, who performed with the Beethoven cadenza, gave the audience a measured and sensitive reading with his now predictable beautiful tone.
Thankfully, 25-year-old Honggi Kim from South Korea chose a concerto different than 20 and 21. He played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488, with the Baerenreiter edition cadenza. Honggi played this upbeat and cheerful concerto with a joy that was evident on his face. The concerto doesn’t make the same technical demands as perhaps the 20th or 21st, at least in the first movement, but the musical demands are still considerable, and Honggi displayed the same level of musical skill he has throughout the competition. The slow movement was taken slowly, but somehow that made it more effective.
The last two performers were the remaining two Russian competitors. Up first was 30-year-old Yuri Favorin who performed the Concerto No. 21 in C major K. 467 with cadenzas by Casadesus. His play was somewhat regimented. It was fluid and he hit all the right notes, but his performance didn’t display the kind of emotion we’ve seen in other competitors so far.
The same, however, cannot be said for his countryman, Georgy Tchaidze, who performed the Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466. Georgy gave an emotional reading with a speeded-up middle section in the second movement and a third movement that was noticeably faster than the third movement by other competitors who have performed this concerto. While it was probably too fast for some, it whipped the audience into an agreeable frenzy, and they saved their biggest appreciation of the night for him.
—Henry Schlinger, Culture Spot LA