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By Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — August 2, 2011
Mr. Jae-Weon Huh (25, Korea), a tall, lanky pianist with long fingers, took the stage first on Tuesday evening for his Semifinal round of pieces by Schumann, Ravel and Rachmaninoff. Schumann’s Kreisleriana began promisingly, well-paced and logical, then veered out of control soon after. Mr. Huh found his balance again, producing lovely, dreamy, poetic colors in soft, slow episodes but often went over the top in fast and furious movement, where he tended toward harshness of touch. Ravel’s Ondine from Gaspard de la nuit had fine moments of nervous tremolos and big climaxes which contrasted with diaphanous timbres and more bursts of energy. But what was up with his Rachmaninoff (the second Sonata, op. 36, revised version)? After big, splashy opening gestures, the piece ballooned into a superscaled essay in sheer pianism that its composer might not have conceived even in his most extroverted moments. Sure, there were colorful, poetic moments, adroit layerings of lines and some brilliant ringing climaxes, but what we’ll take away from this performance is the huge, noisy finale during which the Steinway seemed to cry out in pain, so thoroughly did Mr. Huh pummel its keys. Like Ms. Kim who preceded him in the afternoon, he did some heavy breathing of his own during his set. Read the rest of this entry »