Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
May 25 - June 10, 2017

Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Play to Your Strengths

Cliburn competitors are extraordinary musicians capable of virtually anything, but every great performer programs to highlight their strengths. In today's semifinal recitals, each performer shared unique aspects of their personalities through their performances.



In the midst of the most intense part of the competition yet, the competitors are performing their absolute best and leaving every ounce of energy on the stage. In fact, when Yutong Sun exited the stage, the Backstage Moms asked him how he felt and he could only get one word out, "Exhausted." Seeing these competitors walk back into the refuge of the backstage area having given themselves entirely to their performances is awe inspiring to say the least. 

During today's recitals, the programs were to be of sixty minutes in length. Yutong Sun (21) of China performed Beethoven Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, op. 81a ("Les Adieux"), Liszt Un Sospiro, and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Honggi Kim (25) of South Korea chose the Vine Sonata No. 1, Schumann Kreisleriana, op.  16, and Tchaikovsky-Feinberg Scherzo from Symphony No. 6 "Pathétique." Yury Favorin (30) of Russia opted for a program consisting of Beethoven Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, op. 106 "Hammerklavier" and Sonata No. 1, op. 12 by Shostakovich. The final performer of the evening, Georgy Tchaidze (29) of Russia, selected a program including Schumann's Waldszenen, op. 82, "Alla Reminiszenza" from Forgotten Melodies, op. 38 by Medtner, and we received yet another captivating performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. 

Having heard Pictures at an Exhibition three times throughout the competition so far with another performance of the work tomorrow, I have found myself in a state of pure delight. I have been drawn in by the strength and sensitivity with which these performers have brought the piece to life. The empathy alone that is required to convey Mussorgsky's feelings regarding his beloved friend Victor Hartmann and his under appreciated art make this work a true indicator of a player's emotional capacity. As a trumpet player, my fascination with the Modest Mussorgsky's original composition for piano and the subsequent orchestral transcription is limitless. The immediacy of Goldenberg and Schmuyle when performed on the piano is what I aim to replicate when I perform the passage myself on piccolo trumpet. 

Today, Sun and Tchaidze performed hypnotizing renditions of Mussorgsky's work. In an effort to stay within the time limit, Yutong Sun moved straight from his performance of Un sospiro by Liszt into Pictures at an Exhibition which caused momentary confusion for the audience. However, the audience soon forgot as they were enthralled by Sun's performance which possessed all of the most beautiful elements of a stunning performance of the work. Georgy Tchaidze also performed Pictures at an Exhibition as the final competitor in this evening's solo recital round. Simply put, Tchaidze's performance was absolutely enchanting. Tchaidze's maturity shined in his interpretation of Mussorgsky and removed the listener from the hall and into the exhibition room. The musical intuition of these musicians combined with their sterling technique created a musical space in which they could capture the imagery of Mussorgsky's famous work.

Without a doubt, Honggi Kim and Yury Favorin conquered the stage at the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Kim's infallible technique served him well  in his performance of Schumann's Kreisleriana, op. 16 where he had to devote his energy to emoting the depth of his Schumann's emotions. As we said on our official Twitter account, Favorin is intensity personified. When Favorin is in the backstage waiting area, he tends to pace and keep to himself. Although he is a man of few words, Favorin speaks so eloquently through his playing. His Beethoven was extremely well-received by the audience and our webcast audience simply could not get enough of the Shostakovich. 

Tomorrow the competitors will continue rehearsals with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in preparation for their performances of the Mozart concerti. Be sure to tune in to to see the stunning performances that will take place tomorrow afternoon and evening. Also remember, that we at are taking your viewing experience seriously and are here to provide our viewers, readers, and listeners. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for live updates throughout the day! 


By Katie Kelly

Join the #Cliburn2017 club

Get exclusive information, news and updates... Subscribe to the #Cliburn2017 newsletter!

The 2017 Cliburn webcast is presented by:

  • The Cliburn logo
  • logo