Two Americans, two Russians in Van Cliburn finals

Two Americans, two Russians in Van Cliburn finals


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2017

They are down to the last six:

Kenneth Broberg, 23, United States
Rachel Cheung, 25, Hong Kong
Yury Favorin, 30, Russia
Daniel Hsu, 19, United States
Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, South Korea
Georgy Tchaidze, 29, Russia

They will fight it out over four days, June 7 to 10.





  • Wai Kit Leung says:

    Hong Kong has a representative also. Go Rachel!

  • David Nice says:

    On the evidence of ‘our own’ Martin James Bartlett’s Prokofiev in the quarter-final, I’m amazed he didn’t get further. No matter; he’ll have a fine career all the same.

  • esfir ross says:

    Not every Cliburn winner made a fine career. Even harder for great talent that didn’t advance at Cliburn. Fine pianist and 1st price winner Haochen Zhang was overshadow by sensation of Nobu that playes in full prestigious halls. In San Francisco at small venue less than 100 people and most Chinese came to Haochen Zhang recital. Joseph Horowitz in his book “Ivory trade” described and analysed so well careers of Cliburn winners in the past.

    • Buck Johnson says:

      Right on. What did Olga Kern (“acclaimed” Cliburn co-winner 2001) do to revive her flagging career? Of course: invent her *own* piano competition last year. The other co-winner of that year, Stanislav Ioudenitch, has disappeared into obscurity or even oblivion.

      I note that the 6 finalists will be performing the usual selection of hackneyed concertos that have already been serially murdered in the last 1000 international piano competitions:

      Broberg RACHMANINOFF Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, op. 43
      Cheung BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, op. 58
      Favorin PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, op. 16
      Hsu TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, op. 23
      Sunwoo RACHMANINOFF Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30
      Tchaidze PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major, op. 26

      So why should anyone have any interest in either the performances or the outcome? I’ll be watching a movie channel.

      • Cyril Blair says:

        Since you mentioned Stanislav Ioudenitch, he happens to be the teacher of finalist Kenneth Broberg. Is that total oblivion? I hope not. I wish we revered teachers and the teaching profession like they do in Russia.

      • M2N2K says:

        It’s interesting that the finalists are all playing different concertos. This makes me suspect that the jury took the concerto choices into consideration when making their decision after semifinals, in order to make the final round more entertaining for themselves as well as for the audiences.

    • Steinway Fanatic says:

      Plenty of Cliburn losers went on to make fine careers, including Brigitte Engerer, Yuri Egorov, Nina Lelchuk, Ian Hobson, John Perry, Arthur Moreira Lima, Rudolf Buchbinder, David Golub, Angela Hewitt, William Wolfram, Norman Krieger, Robert Taub, Sarah Davis Buechner, Eduardus Halim, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Kevin Kenner, Angela Cheng, etc. There is also a prominent pianist on the current Cliburn jury wo didn’t even pass the Cliburn pre-screening jury, yet went on to a bugger career than any of the prize-winners from that year.

    • Iain Scott says:

      Well last night I heard Yekwon Sunwoo perform Rachmaninov 3d concerto with the RSNO.
      Sad to say if he was the winner I have no idea what the runners up were like. Massive over pedalling,iritating mannerisms and absolutely no momentum.
      Begs the question what, and for whom, competitions are for?

  • David Rohde says:

    It’s all good! Sure, all six concertos are “hackneyed” … except to the 95% of all people who aren’t familiar with any of the music except the opening of the Tchaikovsky. Maybe having new people in the seats and online is a good thing? I’m just indulging a pet peeve of mine, where classical music writers for general-interest publications (including my hometown newspaper, the Washington Post) label music as “famous” and “overfamiliar” and then in the next sentence whine about the empty seats in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Perhaps those missing audience members stopped reading when they were made to feel stupid because they weren’t members of the club? Presumably the Cliburn’s purpose is at least partly to find concert artists to re-popularize this stuff, speaking at least from an American perspective.

    Regarding the two gold medalists at the 2001 Cliburn, first there’s the irony, as someone noted, that Stanislav Ioudenitch is Kenneth Broberg’s teacher. And Olga Kern is indefatigable, with a particular magnetic hold on audiences in middle-sized U.S. markets, plus her international engagements. Her inaugural competition last fall spun out a couple of pianists in particular (search for my comment on this website) who have before or since won competitions or special accolades in Italy. And the event will return to New Mexico in 2019. All that and I believe Olga is about to take an expanded role at the Manhattan School of Music.

    And how about some love for the six finalists? While I’m not naive about the implications of the final standings, the exposure for all is important regardless of the final results. Georgy Tchaidze was the one who was a bit of a surprise to me though I’m sure not to others. In the first two rounds, which I attended in Fort Worth, he demonstrated a beautiful legato which I felt he sometimes over-applied – for example the first movement of Prokofiev’s eighth sonata just felt more Chopinesque where it could have been drier and more mysterious. So I’m hoping to hear a good deal of spikiness in his Prokofiev third concerto in the finals. For all the others, I’d say that:

    – Yekwon Sunwoo is the most complete pianist but I’m looking to see something of an “it” factor from him;
    – Yury Favorin is the most powerful but I’m almost more interested in how he integrates with the Brentano String Quartet than in how he shows his Prokofievan might with the orchestra;
    – Rachel Cheung is the most compelling and whatever spontaneous feeling she can invoke in new listeners from Brahms (her piano quintet) and Beethoven will be key;
    – Daniel Hsu has been the most revelatory but his ability to navigate the meandering of the Tchaikovsky concerto will test his so far exemplary interpretive skills at age 19;
    – And Kenneth Broberg has been one of the most dramatic but I want to see a lot of grace and if he can even make me laugh in the Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody.

    Once again, congratulations to all!