The Cliburn Report 13: Les Six

Leonard Slatkin

After two three rounds of recitals and one round of piano quintets (with the Brentano String Quartet), the group of thirty Van Cliburn International Piano Competition contestants has finally been narrowed down to six finalists. This Thursday through Sunday, each of them will play two concertos with the Fort Worth Symphony conducted by former St. Louis Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin.

I’ll be covering the final round from Fort Worth as part of a delegation from the Music Critics Association of North America. Meanwhile, here’s a list of the finalists along with the concerti each will play.

Sean Chen (24, USA)

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 73
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30

Fei-Fei Dong (22, China)

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, op. 58
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30

Vadym Kholodenko (26, Ukraine)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, op. 26

Nikita Mndoyants (24, Russia)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 16

Beatrice Rana (20, Italy)

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, op. 37
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 16

Tomoki Sakata (19, Japan)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, op. 23

And for those of you who like details, here’s the Cliburn jury handbook, courtesy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Cliburn Report 6: First movement coda

Jayson Gillham

Photo: Ralph Lauer

[I will be covering the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June.  Meanwhile I’m picking the best of the current press coverage for you dining and dancing pleasure.]

As some of you may know, this is the first edition of the Cliburn in which the thirty semi-finalists are given a literal second chance to show their abilities as soloists. Previously, the field was cut from thirty to twelve after only one round of recitals. This year, each contestant gets to perform two forth-minute programs, beginning today. That’s a classic good news/bad news scenario, as Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Tim Madigan observes. “For all the positives,” he writes, “the new format has brought scheduling challenges and intensified the already grueling nature of the preliminary round. In past competitions, with just one recital per competitor, the preliminaries started to feel like a slog for the media and audience members committed to sitting for every note.”

The Star-Telegram also has a photo gallery of day three for your perusal.

Alexey Chernov

Photo: Ralph Lauer

Mr. Madigan also has a nicely balanced article on what winning the Cliburn does—and doesn’t—mean to a young pianist’s career. It’s well worth a read.

Dallas Morning News music critic Scott Cantrell continues his coverage of the competition with reviews of the Sunday evening recitals as well as the morning and afternoon performances at the paper’s arts blog.

The pianists he singles out for special praise this time are Jayson Gillham (26, Australia-U.K.), Alexey Chernov (30, Russia; “the most riveting contestant so far”), and Sara Daneshpour (26, U.S., who “gets the prize so far for the most ravishing playing”).

Sara Daneshpour

Photo: Ralph Lauer

Gregory Isaacs of the Music Critics Association of North America continues his more detailed coverage of the first, second and third rounds on Sunday at the TheaterJones site. He shares Mr. Cantrell’s enthusiasm for Jayson Gillham, Alexey Chernov, and Sara Daneshpour, but has positive things to say about many of the others as well.

Phase two of the preliminary round began Monday, May 27, at 3 PM central. You can view the entire series live at cliburn.org, hosted with great charm by pianist Jade Simmons.

Thursday morning music news: The Eagles doc-rock, Madonna Jazzercises and Claude Nobs passes on

facebook.com/vampireweekend / Terry Fillisetti Yoshinaga

“The Eagles documentary has landed.” Hat tip to the LA Times for the superlative headline.

The superlative Dangerous Minds digs up a video of Devo blowing minds in New York in 1977.

Al Jazeera reports on the struggle to rebuild a culture of music in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Vibe rounds up the best MLK samples.

The Postal Service celebrates 10 years with a reunion and some new songs.

Adam Ant is back.

Ditto for Vampire Weekend. The band’s third album hits the streets on May 7.

The New York Times reports on a pretty amazing disco auction.

Get fit with Madge!

Hypebot charts the reach of online music services. Pandora is still king.

And these numbers prove why.

Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, has died at the age of 76.

The beloved Annie Zaleski scoops up 10 perfect Cheap Trick songs.

I’ve got a whole lot of nada against Spain, but is it too late to move the Primavera Sound Festival to the Midwest?

The single most important question of the week is whether Beyonce lip-synced at the inauguration. Score one for Ms. Knowles-Carter.

KDHX’s latest live, in-studio sessions feature Tristen and Corb Lund.

Myspace 2.0/6.0/14.0 (who can keep track?) just hit a speed bump.

You’d think Lou and John would just kiss and make up already. You’d be wrong.

The Nashville Scene’s Country Music Critic’s Poll is out.

The “shuffling” dance craze appears to have taken over an otherwise quite sensible London.

But Sonia Sotomayor has the real moves.

The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has a new band, Bosnian Rainbows. Listen.

Jerry Seinfeld raps. Technically this is an Onion headline, but that doesn’t mean it’s not for real.

Thursday morning music news: The AMA gets a makeover, Big Boi and André 3000 get together and the Flaming Lips get ‘Zaireeka’ back on the vinyl racks

facebook.com/outkast

Congrats to the Beatles for reaching another milestone: public domain status in Europe.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re the head honcho of a multi-national media empire, and said empire is bleeding cash to the tune of $190 million a year. Turns out, you’re laughing all the way to the bank.

The lines at Record Store Day just got longer.

Bad Religion hits the road — with a date at Pop’s in Sauget, Ill. on April 6 — and streams its forthcoming album, “True North.”

The Guardian scores a sit-down with Stevie Nicks.

The Americana Music Association gets a new mission statement.

John Wilkinson, guitarist for Elvis Presley and Springfield, Mo. resident, has died at the age of 67.

Download the new Big Boi and André 3000 reunion remix.

The soul-crushingly sad last night of Amy Winehouse.

Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell and the Mississippi Sheiks — hipsterfied.

Chairman Mao — hipsterfied.

The fake Dan Bejar Twitter is probably better than a real one.

RIP Kent Abbott, guitarist for Grade and Somehow Hollow.

If there’s anyone left who cares, U2 has a new album coming out.

Martin Douglas tells what it’s like to be the only black guy at an indie rock show.

Meet Maura Johnston, the app.

Nobody does a list like the Dean.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back — and apparently have lost all leave of their graphic-design senses.

Joe Strummer gets a plaza in Spain.

Sammy Johns, of the one-hit-wonder smash “Chevy Van,” has died at the age of 66.

Here’s a new music biz model that works: Bandcamp’s “For Fans” network.

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to shut down Guantanamo.

Thursday morning music news: Big Boi gets Grinchy, Mac Lethal gets angry and Willie Ackerman passes on

eddiepalmierimusic.com

KDHX kicks of its year-end roundups with big lists of top spins, DJ top 10 albums, songs of the year and more.

The Magnolia Avenue Studios have been jumping, with new sessions from Cory Chisel, Middle Class Fashion and Ellis Paul streaming now.

The second volume of KDHXmas, a furiously festive compilation of St. Louis (and beyond) artists doing original and classic holiday tunes, is out.

Big Boi reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”? Yes. Watch.

If reports are to be believed, Charles Mingus made the greatest eggnog ever.

Don’t get your hopes up for a Nirvana reunion any time soon.

Norton Records’ warehouse was hit hard by superstorm Sandy. Yo La Tengo to the rescue.

After the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., U.S. radio isn’t so keen on Ke$ha’s “Die Young.”

Interwebs sensation Mac Lethal cuts an excellent takedown of the Westboro Baptist Church. Watch.

Billboard looks back at a “tumultuous year” in the music biz.

Frank Ocean’s deadbeat dad is shaking him down for $1 million.

One of the finest drummers in Nashville, Willie Ackerman, has died at the age of 73.

Get a sneak preview of the forthcoming Flaming Lips concert film. Trailer very much NSFW.

One of the greatest rock collections ever, “Nuggets,” has turned 40. Lenny Kaye looks back on his handiwork.

The dance music experts at Resident Advisor weigh in with their 50 favorite tracks of the year.

The world doesn’t need another zombie TV show, but if it must have one, it should have a soundtrack by Mogwai.

Michael Hall tells the epic story of “Trigger,” the legendary guitar of Willie Nelson.

The LA Times shares a playlist for the end of the world.

Just who is PSY and how did he come to be the king of the pop world? The Stool Pigeon knows.

The New York Times profiles the great Eddie Palmieri.

This is not an Onion headline: Man arrested for stealing a Miley Cyrus sex doll.

Thursday morning music news: Wyman and Taylor turn back the clock, Low turns to Jeff Tweedy and Austin Peralta, Martin Fay and Earl Carroll pass on

facebook.com/lowmusic

You know that lottery thing? Something about a cool half billion? Here’s what you can spend it on. Or this.

Bill and Mick (the other one) are back.

Doo-wop great Earl (Speedo) Carroll has passed away at the age of 75.

“Rage Against the Machine XX” gets remastered and Revolver shares it.

God save LargeHearted Boy and his massive master list of 2012 Year-End Music Lists.

Have a very metal Christmas.

Have a very Bonnie Prince Billy Christmas.

Pianist Austin Peralta, a collaborator with Flying Lotus, has died at the age of 22.

When does sampling become plagiarism? Study the case of Araabmuzik and decide for yourself.

Richard Marx has just become the most hilarious drunk musician tweeter ever.

Behold the fruitiest music list ever.

How does one “lose” a Jimi Hendrix album anyway?

What are the rarest UK releases? The Guardian (UK, natch) finds out.

Remember that time Suzanne Somers met Wire on the Late Show? Dangerous Minds does.

Is Spotify ripping off artists? Is the music biz? David Macias of Thirty Tigers runs the actual numbers and mounts a partial defense.

The Record interviews Spencer Manio, not exactly a household name, but one influential dude.

Martin Fay, founding fiddler for the Chieftains, has died at age 76.

Daily Swarm indulges in a good old-fashioned turkey shoot.

Spike Lee made a documentary about Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” Watch.

Low turns 20 and throws a party with Jeff Tweedy. OK, maybe not a party, but still.

The New Yorker resurrects the Grateful Dead. OK, maybe not a resurrection, but still.

In other birthday news, MIDI turns 30. The BBC looks back on the most important musical invention since the lipstick pickup.

Shuggie Otis returns. Watch.

Massive Attack mashes up its influences. Listen.

Talk of the Nation chats with Dolly Parton about her new, dreamy book.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds “Push That Sky Away.”

Signs of the apocalypse #666: Forbes has a music blog.

Once seen, they cannot be unseen.

Thursday morning music news: ‘Loveless’ turns Japanese, Yo La Tengo turns on and Major Harris and Cleve Duncan pass away

facebook.com/shuggieotis

The first round of SXSW 2013 bands is out.

RIP Major Harris. The Detroit soul man has passed away at the age of 65.

Listen to Billy Bragg deliver the John Peel Lecture for the BBC.

Billboard considers how the 2012 elections will impact the music biz.

Holy benefit concerts: Bruce, Kayne, Billy, Alicia, Paul and Roger will be in the same arena at the same time for post-Sandy relief.

Long-form journalism is Uncool and it has a Kickstarter.

And speaking of long-players, Jeff Weiss’ long day’s journey into Alaska’s music scene is a great read.

Shuggie Otis hits the road, but alas, no St. Louis date as of yet.

Everyone loves harmony. Wired explains why.

The weirdest album of the year is still Beck’s “Song Reader,” which can only be “heard” by playing the songs yourself. So The New Yorker takes up the challenge.

When it comes to streaming royalties, the math really doesn’t work.

The brilliant graphic artist/cartoonist Krent Able takes aim at all your rock ‘n’ roll heroes.

Pun resistance is futile: Brandon Flowers wilts.

What to make of the Japanese tribute to My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”?

NPR profiles A&M records.

The Independent hangs with Brian Eno in the studio.

Cleve Duncan, the voice of “Earth Angel,” has died at age 77.

Dear crafters/artists who like to makes stuff from old records: The bar has been raised.

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock — of “Super Size Me” etc. — is making a One Direction movie.

Yo La Tengo announces first new album in four years. Great cover.

The RFT picks the 10 best music photographers in St. Louis. Complex goes national.

Sufjan Stevens is really into Christmas.

What to get the cougar who has everything?: A Rick Springfield interactive app, of course.

Thursday morning music news: WFMU returns to the air, Dave Grohl returns to the skins and Elliott Carter and Mitch Lucker pass on

facebook.com/Meshell.Ndegeocello

Avant-garde composer Elliott Carter has died at the age of 103.

How did Sandy impact the New York music scene? The Daily Swarm counts the ways and Billboard runs the numbers.

Sandy knocked WFMU in New York off the air. The indie radio station is back but still in dire straits.

Mariah Carey brings it on home for President Barack Obama.

Nelly turns 38 and shares “Scorpio Season,” a new mixtape.

The mind boggles at the possible puns so we’ll just quote Billboard: “Civil Wars Cancel Tour, Cite ‘Internal Discord, Irreconcilable Differences’”

Celebrate 25 years of Acid Jazz at the Guardian.

No Doubt comes to its senses and ditches the “Looking Hot” video.

RIP Mitch Lucker of Suicide Silence. Learn about the memorial fund for his daughter Kenadee.

NPR pays tribute to Meshell Ndegeocello’s new and excellent tribute to Nina Simone.

What would a single-album, hybrid, mashup of the entire Fugazi catalogue sound like? Disquiet finds out.

Sigur Rós has a homecoming and treats Iceland to a new song. Watch.

Flavorwire shares 25 photos of rock stars just hanging out and stuff.

Be a fly on the wall at the Patti Smith and Neil Young powwow.

Here’s hoping Frightened Rabbit’s new album won’t be as dull as its title, “Pedestrian Verse.”

The Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock contributes new music to “Off the Rails” at the New York Times.

When Dave Grohl retired Foo Fighters, who would have guessed he’d be back with Queens of the Stone Age?

Thinking about a trip to Berlin to hit the clubs? Think again.

Behold: M.I.A. “The Book.”

Skeleton Vampire Weekend performs a new song on Kimmel.

Who knew the 1% were so damn into Radiohead?

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