A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

June 3: Day three of the semifinal round, part two, of the Cliburn International Piano Competition: Leonardo Pierdomenico, Kenneth Broberg, Daniel Tsu and Dasol Kim

Before the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition began, all 30 initial contestants were given a choice of eight Mozart piano concertos from which to choose for their concerto performance with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra in the semifinal round. The eight concertos included No. 9, and Nos. 20-27 (with the exception of number 26). Of the 12 semifinalists, it is not surprising that all except for two chose concertos Nos. 20 and 21 (six chose No. 20 and four chose No. 21). On the plus side, it will give the audience and jury a chance to compare those contestants on the same piece. On the negative side, it might tend to get a bit boring hearing the same concerto played several times in three days.

Saturday night saw the first of the Mozart piano concertos by four of the semifinalists, Leonardo Pierdomenico, Kenneth Broberg, Daniel Tsu and Dasol Kim. Pierdomenico and Kim performed the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, Tsu performed the Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467, and Broberg, one of the two contestants to perform a concerto different than 20 and 21, performed the Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503.

Needless to say, all of the performers were at the top of their game. It was clear that all of them had performed with orchestras before; they all kept a watchful eye on Nicholas McGegan, the conductor for the Mozart concertos, and played almost perfectly in sync with the orchestra. The only differences were subtle.

For example, Broberg and Kim were better able to make the piano part rise above the orchestra. Pierdomenico and Kim played the cadenza that Beethoven wrote for the D minor concerto; Broberg played the Baerenreiter edition cadenza with his own improvisation, which cleverly included a brief audience-pleasing reference to “La Marseillaise,” the as-of-yet unwritten (i.e., when the concerto was composed) French national anthem. Hsu performed a cadenza for the 21st concerto that was written by Andre Hsu, his brother.

The biggest cheers of the night belonged to Broberg and Kim, the latter an audience favorite since the beginning of the competition. But all four performers gave very convincing performances that could stand up with any performance. The Ft. Worth Symphony under McGegan’s direction was the perfect accompaniment to the soloists, and at the conclusion of each concerto joined with the audience to applaud the young performers.

—Henry Schlinger, Culture Spot LA

Visit www.cliburn.org.