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Ran Dank

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Nordic Voices group showcases Norwegian composers at National Gallery of Art
Washington Post, October 18, 2010

Israeli-born, Juilliard-trained pianist Ran Dank made a splashy Washington debut on Saturday afternoon, presented by Washington Performing Arts Society in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. The originally announced program was almost identical to what he played when he won the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York last year. Instead, Dank returned to some of his choices for the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, where he finished as a semifinalist, one of several jury decisions to be criticized that year.

Dank played with impeccable technical surety, a point made by a boisterous performance of Liszt's "Réminiscences de Norma" transcription, a piece hardly worth the trouble of busting one's chops to play it. Miles of gauzy scales, dizzying double octaves, and fluttering repeated-note chords -- Dank conquered them all, rendering some of Bellini's vocal flourishes with a bravura more pianistic than bel canto. [Continue reading]
Ran Dank, piano
Washington Performing Arts Society
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

Although I did not mention the encores in the review for lack of space, Dank played the opening piece of Schumann's Kinderszenen and, far more impressively, Nikolai Kapustin's jazzy Concert Etude No. 8. See the score and the composer's performance of the piece in the video embedded below.

Nikolai Kapustin, Concert Etude No. 8 (played by the composer)


jfl said...

There's never a time when Kapustin isn't awesome. It's like reading P.G. Wodehouse... invariably brings a smile to your face.

Anonymous said...

A little of this goes a long way. I have a Marc-Andre Hamelien CD of Kapustin's music and after about 20 mins. my ears and head are so tired of the relentless busyness, I have to turn it off. But, there is much to enjoy.

Anonymous said...

As a pianist myself, I am surprised both at your review earlier and your comment about these encores. It seems that you have failed to see what so many of us heard last Saturday- most striking of which was Mr. Dank's beautiful and refined playing of the slower sections. He is one of the handful of young artists today without the hysteria of outward exaggeration. That he has a technique to burn to top it should only make one appreciate his music making on a grander level. I fine it utterly baffling that an astoundingly honest and moving performance such as the one given by Mr. Dank should receive such a lukewarm review by the nation's premier newspaper. Shame indeed.

Anonymous said...

Then again, we shouldn't trust anyone calling the WP "the nation's premier newspaper" to judge anything else - music or otherwise - soberly.

Charles T. Downey said...

Re: Kapustin, I agree with Anonymous 1 -- they are great pieces that make perfect encores.

A "lukewarm" review just because I did not gush about the performance in the way you want to? I called his technique impeccable, his programming gutsy, and his handling of varied textures opulent. It was a very good performance.

But, no, I did not hear what you and "so many of us" apparently did as far as the slow movements. Without some technical flash, the phrasing became pretty boring. My prescription: several weeks of listening to Mitsuko Uchida.