Rachel Cheung in the semifinal recital

Cliburn Semifinal Round 6

Reviews of the sixth semifinal recital session at the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition: Han Chen and Rachel Cheung.

published Sunday, June 4, 2017

Reviews of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Semifinal Recital Round, session 6 (2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4). You can see bios and complete repertoire of all pianists here.

For quick links to all our Cliburn reviews, click here.




Taiwan, 25


BACH-BUSONI Chaconne in D Minor, BWV 1004
SCRIABIN Fantasie in B Minor, op. 28
JANÁČEK Piano Sonata 1 .X. 1905 (“From the Street”)
SCHUBERT Fantasie in C Major, D. 760, op. 15 (“Der Wanderer”)


Photo: Ralph Lauer/The Cliburn
Han Chen in the semifinal recital


Han Chen’s program reads more like a collection of his favorite pieces than a carefully planned competition program: We heard Busoni’s overloaded version of Bach’s Chaconne, Scriabin’s Op.28 Fantasie, Janáček’s first sonata and another Fantasie (Schubert’s Op. 15)

There is absolutely no doubt that Chen possesses fearsome technical abilities. He probably can play anything finger-wise. What he lacks is a sense of architecture and an organized plan for the dynamics. He certainly played all the notes in a jaw-dropping manner, even though he overpowered a lot of the actual music.

Once he learns how to pace his efforts for the long haul, He will have a successful concert career.




Hong Kong, 25


SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, op. 16
PROKOFIEV Sonata No. 6 in A Major, op. 82


Photo: Ralph Lauer/The Cliburn
Rachel Cheung in the semifinal recital


Rachel Cheung was in fine form for her last recital. The Schumann is a collection of eight short, related pieces. The composer wrote several of these and they are recital favorites. The work is based on Kreisler, a crazy but­ canny conductor and a character from the works of E.T.A. Hoffman. Cheung not only layered the notes, she also played the character of each movement. Even if the listener was not familiar with Kreisler, it was easy to catch the state of the fictional character’s manic mind in Cheung’s performance.

The Prokofiev sonata received a near-perfect performance. She brought out the ambiguity of the key right from the start with both A-major and A-minor battling for dominance. She didn’t downplay the composer’s use of dissonance in this basically tonal work. She created an overall feeling of rootlessness and misery. She raised the mood in the second movement with a happier march and a waltz in the third movement. The virtuosic final movement brought the audience to its feet.






See links to all of our reviews that have posted here.

See the schedule of semifinal performances here.



  • Thursday, June 1: 7:30 p.m. (recital)
  • Friday, June 2: 2:30 (recital) and 7:30 p.m. (recital)
  • Saturday, June 3: 2:30 (recital) and 7:30 p.m. (concerto)
  • Sunday, June 4: 2:30 (recital) and 7:30 p.m. (concerto)
  • Monday, June 5: 2:30 (recital) and 7:30 p.m. (concerto)



  • Wednesday, June 7: 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 8: 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, June 9: 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 10: 3 p.m.


  • Saturday, June 10: 7 p.m.
 Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Cliburn Semifinal Round 6
Reviews of the sixth semifinal recital session at the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition: Han Chen and Rachel Cheung.
by Gregory Sullivan Isaacs

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :