Cleveland International Piano Competition: Review
Tuesday’s evening session began with American pianist Vijay Venkatesh (25), who produced fine, singing lines in J.S. Bach’s WTC II C-Major Prelude and Fugue. Elegant voicing and immaculate cross-hand melodies distinguished his lyrical reading of Schubert’s first Impromptu; his beautiful hands resembled a hypnotizing ballet across the keyboard, and his rapturous playing of Kenji Bunch’s jumpy-jazzy Premonitions provided a very nice contrasting sentiment. Venkatesh ended his set with Chopin. The Op. 10 No. 1 Etude was calm on the surface and eventful in the bass. Terraced dynamics and a wide palette of colors marked his beautifully-shaped performance of the 3rd Scherzo. Throughout the set, the pianist wore an engaging smile.
Two works made up Vijay Venkatesh’s second round program, which began Friday evening’s lineup. He delivered Liszt’s 12th Hungarian Rhapsody with passion and flair, its rumbly bass roulades answered by fluty treble figures. The charming dance segment displayed his fine sense of layering.
Beethoven’s rather enigmatic last sonata, Op. 111, began with Venkatesh’s long, nicely-moving lines with several varieties of swinging dotted rhythms gracing the second movement, along with his mesmerizing treble-end passage, eloquent trills, and a beautifully-shaped crescendo that built into powerful intensity; all finely managed by this sensitive musician. Venkatesh greeted the warm applause with his customary, wall-to-wall smile.
Zachary Lewis | The Plain Dealer | Cleveland, Ohio