Six finalists were announced by Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition judges Thursday afternoon. They will perform in the competition's final round.
Chosen from a field of 10 semi-finalists winnowed by previous rounds from an initial list of 47 international competitors, the six finalists are Lori Sims, United States; Ju-Ying Song, United States; Eugene Mursky, Uzbekistan; Sean Botkin, United States; Marko Martin, Estonia; and Luiza Borac, Romania.In the last round of the competition, to be held Friday and Saturday evenings, the six survivors will face a final test of stamina and musicianship as each performs a piano concerto with the Utah Symphony. Guest conductor Fabio Mechetti will be at the podium.
Lori Sims made her way to the finals on the strength of a secure playing of Schumann's "Davidsbundlertanze" in which she aptly characterized the rapidly shifting moods of the work. Especially good was her searing performance of Barber's "Sonata in B-flat Minor." The near-impossible difficulties of the third movement received such wonderfully clean execution that the result was downright scary. She will perform Prokofiev's "Concerto No. 3 in C Major" in the final round.
Ju-Ying Song showed herself to be a very facile and versatile performer in works of Busoni, Soler and Chopin. Still, it was her exhibitionistic performance of "Rudepoema" by the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos that was most remarkable. Song's big sound and extroverted playing gave wild energy to her individualistic performance of the piece. For the final round, she will perform "Concerto for the Left Hand in D Major" by Ravel.
For Eugene Mursky, it was an all-stops-out rendition of Liszt's wickedly difficult "Mephisto Waltz" that catapulted him to the finals, not to take anything away from his elegant Haydn and authoritative Chopin. The Liszt showed off his wonderful dexterity and innate showmanship. In the final round he performs Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 2 in C minor."
Sean Botkin characterized Bach's "English Suite No. 5" with a solid intellectual approach and gave a precise and hypnotic performance of Bartok's "Out of Doors Suite." His Chopin sonata showed character and was full of genuine feeling. He performs Liszt's "Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major" for the final round.
Marko Martin showed that he has technique to burn and an uncanny gift of tonal penetration. His riveting and dynamically varied Shostakovich, coupled with the emotional depth and musical understanding of his Brahms sonata, makes him one to watch. In his Liszt performance, he showed a rare gift for combining musicality and showmanship. Martin's choice for the final round is Tchai-kov-sky's "Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor."
Luiza Borac gave a soulful rendition of Rachmaninoff's "Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor" and topped it off with a dexterous rendition of Chopin's "Twelve Etudes, Op. 25." Her fast-fingered performance of the "Winter Wind" etude was particularly breathtaking. She performs Liszt's "Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major" in the final round.
Performances Friday and Saturday are at 7 p.m. in Abravanel Hall. For tickets call ArTix at 355-2787.