As many cheering fans had expected, George Li catapulted himself into the Finals with a memorable performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A, K. 488.
Reed Tetzloff not having the same good fortune to make the cut, still delivered a moving reading of the soulful middle movement, K. 488.
A noticeable audience favorite at this competition has been French pianist, Lucas Debargue whose artistry is uniquely introspective and Old World–a contrast from players heard to date in all rounds.
What amounts to a cult-like following surrounds Debargue in response to his Medtner and Ravel performances which had mystical qualities.
Seymour Bernstein was so moved, he sent an email to his list of followers celebrating Debarge’s artistry!
“First, the Medtner is unbelievable! But I doubt that anyone will ever hear Ravel’s Gaspard performed like this. The French pianist Lucas Debargue must be a another world. Simply the most miraculous playing. Perhaps because of this alone he may win the competition.”
While I appreciated the trance-like playing of Debargue in his Round 2 recital, I found his Bach, and Beethoven, op. 10 no. 3, Round 1, to lack definition and tonal brightness. He seemed focused on a big intellectual dimension without finite detail. Often he skimmed the surface of the keys in the Baroque and Classical era works, while his illusory approach seemed better suited to late Romantic and Impressionist era composers. (A Ravel-inspired color palette was very appealing)
Many Debargue followers showcased his reading of Mozart’s C minor concerto with its dark, foreboding dimension, well fleshed out by the Frenchman, while I hurriedly revisited Murray Perahia’s performance with its more diversely lyrical and emotional contrasts.
The List of Finalists
The final round that resumes June 28th will include Tchaikovsky, Liszt and Prokofiev concertos.
REPLAY, George Li’s Recital, Round One:
Flashback to my interview with George Li in 2012: