FORT WORTH - 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
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
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.