Sergie Prokofiev has long been a favorite composer among Cliburn hopefuls, because the Russian's music allows pianists ample opportunity to demonstrate that they can play loud and fast. In the opening recital of Tuesday's New York auditions, Juilliard student Sara Daneshpour, played Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7, and yes, left no doubt she can play loud and fast.
But it is the the quieter passages that the kind of music-making and artistry the judges are looking for can emerge. Daneshpour's heartbreaking performance of a piece by Enrique Granados on Tuesday was a case in point. It was called, appropriately enough, El amor y muerte, or, Love and Death.
"That piece is really interesting," the 25-year-old daughter of Iranian immigrants said after she finished. "It's all about the pain and anguish of losing someone and the ecstacy of the moments you had with them. It goes from hot to cold and cold to hot. Your suddenly highest of the highs, and then you just plunge," she said.
That fairly described emotions of her audience on Tuesday, and the most effective passages were not those that required her fingers to move fast, but those in which she barely touched the keys, producing a feather-like sound that wafted toward the ceiling the Caspary Auditorium.
It was the work of a terrific young artist, a seminfinalist at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow two years ago. I really hope to hear her again in Fort Worth. I'm quite confident I will.