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Posted on Thu, Jun. 03, 2004
 
 I M A G E S 
Allan Blumenthal performs in the Cliburn-sponsored International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs on Thursday.
STAR-TELEGRAM/RON T. ENNIS
Allan Blumenthal performs in the Cliburn-sponsored International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs on Thursday.
Brazilian-born, California-based financial trader Marisa Naomi Haines opened Wednesday's performances with an energetic rendition of one of the less frequently performed of Beethoven's piano sonatas.
STAR-TELEGRAM/RON T. ENNIS
Brazilian-born, California-based financial trader Marisa Naomi Haines opened Wednesday's performances with an energetic rendition of one of the less frequently performed of Beethoven's piano sonatas.

Cliburn amateurs make music magic all day and night




Star-Telegram Classical Music Critic

Sometimes, when we are lucky, we experience a performance that reminds us of the reasons that live acoustic music-making is still important, even in the age of technology.

Canadian-born New Yorker Thomas Maurice delivered such a performance Wednesday during the afternoon session of the Cliburn-sponsored International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs (aka the "Amateur Cliburn") at Ed Landreth Auditorium.

Maurice presented Liszt's piano solo version of the Liebestod from Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde with a combination of passion, momentum and insight that transcended the labels of "amateur" or "professional." This listener has never heard a finer performance of this work. Maurice captured the intellect and emotion of Wagner's original while communicating the spirit of pianistic virtuosity that Liszt added in his version. I was reaching for a hankie by the time Maurice gave us that final starlike note.

There was, indeed, a rare spirit of musical magic at work all afternoon as one performer after another demonstrated that special insight that a dedicated musician who happens to make his living in some other profession can bring to the art of music. Brazilian-born, California-based financial trader Marisa Naomi Haines opened the day's performances with an energetic advocacy of one of the less frequently performed of Beethoven's piano sonatas, the Opus 54 in F. Japanese-born, Michigan-based Hiroko Ohtani has grown tremendously as a musician since her earliest appearances in Fort Worth several years ago, enabling her to present rarely heard works of Prokofiev and Poulenc in a unique program that a professional concert artist probably wouldn't dare.

Though the sheer difficulty of the work overwhelmed him, Darin Tysdal deserves kudos for his performance of the jazzy, energetic first movement of the Sonata No. 2 of Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin. Tysdal's performance was the most extensive presentation to date in Fort Worth of the music of an underrated genius.

Finnish-born U.S. resident Victor Dyni, meanwhile, met the daunting challenge of Liszt's Sonetto 104 del Petrarca with spirit, style and technical command. Mark Gordon, a New York-based legal assistant, took the audience in the opposite direction with an expertly shaped performance of excerpts from Hindemith's Sonata No. 3 and Ludus Tonalis.

In the evening session, film and video game composer Paul Anthony Romero provided the most impressive performance of the night, presenting a bold performance of two preludes of Rachmaninoff, followed up with the same composer's delightfully trashy Polka de WR. Romero, a consistent prize winner in amateur competitions worldwide, performed with an almost athletic sense of power, conveying at the same time the nostalgia and intense emotionalism of Rachmaninoff's music.

Shortly afterward, Ryan Layne Whitney, an information technology specialist, gave a memorable performance of a virtually unknown rondo by J.S. Bach's son C.P.E. Bach, finding humor and suspense in music that most pianists, professional and amateur alike, overlook.

Closing out the night, Greek-born ophthalmologist Louis Dalaveris explored a catalog of touches, colors and moods, from percussive to tender, in a confident reading of Prokofiev's Sonata No. 3. And New York-based medical technologist Milton Farbstein broke no new ground but gave an elegantly dramatic performance of Chopin's Ballade No. 4, while Franz Josef Mantini, a Florida-based electrical engineer, presented a convincing, confident and extroverted rendition of three movements from J.S. Bach's Partita No. 6 in E minor.

Past finalist Henri Delbeau brought the preliminary round to a close with a whispered transcription from J.S. Bach, moving without interruption to raging interpretations of the Wagner-Liszt Liebestod and Chopin's Prelude in D minor -- somehow a perfect lead-in to the tense announcement of the group that will be advancing to the semifinal round.

Today's schedule

There are no performances today. The competition will resumes at 1 p.m. Friday at Ed Landreth Hall on the TCU campus.

Call (817) 335-9000 or log on to www.centralticketoffice.com for more information.


wlgay@star-telegram.com (817) 390-7756

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