I got so caught up in the Olympics that the Van Cliburn’s Amateur Piano Video Competition slipped under my radar. Rather than make weak excuses, I’ll just note that the contest was won by Kristin Anderson, an organizational performance training consultant from nearby Irving. You can see her performance below. Her Rachmaninov C-sharp minor Prelude is majestic, and though I wish she had connected the melody better in the middle section, I do like her use of the pedal on the chords in the coda. The same goes for the Bach C major Prelude that concludes her video entry. All in all, she’s a worthy winner, who will now receive an automatic berth in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Amateurs, to be held in 2015. Congratulations, Kristin!
I went through the other contestants’ videos on YouTube and found some notable performances that I’m embedding below. This is  playing the third movement of Beethoven’s Op. 110 Piano Sonata. These late Beethoven pieces can be hard to follow even when professionals play it.  does just fine with it.
Computing consultant Stephen Fierros plays a couple of pieces by Serge Bortkiewicz and makes me want to find out more about this contemporary of Rachmaninov and Scriabin. He rounds off the program with Siloti’s transcription of Bach’s G minor Organ Prelude. It’s all done cleanly, attractively, and with a feel for the Russian late-Romantic idiom.
I frankly prefer Jenni Levey’s version of Rachmaninov’s C-sharp minor Prelude to Kristin Anderson’s; Levey’s is more demonstrative and more secure technically. Her rendering of Ernesto Lacuona’s Malagueno is perhaps a bit too well-behaved, but she does get the Spanish atmosphere down.
Psychiatrist Mark Cannon leads off with Vladimir Horowitz’ Danse excentrique, a piece written in Horowitz’ youthful days in Paris that owes a clear debt to Debussy. Cannon tosses it off with a good sense of fun, and his version of Chopin’s E minor Waltz is animated by the same spirit.