Sunday, May 31, 2009


Among all the wonderful performances so far at the 13th Van Cliburn Internationional Competition taking place in Forth Worth is one I found particularly inspiring.

The 20-year-old blind Japanese pianist, Tsujii Nubuki, stole my heart with his preliminary round performance of the 12 Opus 10 etudes of Chopin, Images Book 1 of Debussy, and the Liszt Paganini Etude, La Campanella, a work requiring copious amounts of pianistic "sharpshooting." He made it to the semi-final round, and his second semi-final performance is later today. He played the Schumann Quintet last Friday as his first semi-final round performance.

In the midst of all the pyrotechics, he exposed his beautiful soul in the first of the Images, Reflets dans l'eau. If you don't have time for the entire performance, do stay with it through that one.

It's a bit of an effort to get there, but it's well worth it.
2. "Click here to launch webcast." At this point you may have to downloaded a video streaming plug-in, Silverlight, from Microsoft. Do take the time to do it.
3. At the botom left of the screen, click "Preliminary Archives"
4. At the bottom right of the screen, click the right arrow until Tsujii Numuki appears, then click on his photograph.

And while you're at it, take some time to find his performer portrait as well as admiring the wonderful technical feat the Cliburn people have accomplished with live streaming of the entire competition.
Update later in the day: I just finished watching his performance of Beethoven's Opus 106. I am speechless. This was exquisite, a rare moment in music. And he's only 20 years old. And blind. One does not expect artistry at this level from such young performers. And once again he exposed his soul to us in the most exquisite way possible, a blind man playing a work by a deaf composer. This is the triumph of the human spirit.
Update 2: He was selected as one of the 6 finalists.