Well, I'm finally home and unpacked and everything, and had time to catch up on this thread.
I must say that I disagree with what most of you are saying really. Bozhanov was probably my 2nd favourite after the semis, his frank quintet and schubert sonata were both incredible. But his final round solo recital was sloppy (even the Schumann that somebody else here mentioned)... the last chord of the whole recital (in the exciting, but again, sloppy faust waltz) was a complete splat! I had dinner with one of the competitors from the semis who was eliminated, who said about Bozhanov's Chopin, "I'm really familiar with the Chopin Concerto and love it, but I had never heard the Bozhanov Concerto before..." I think that's going a little far, and I liked it (the concerto). But what he did with the Rach 2 was completely disgusting. I couldn't even hear the orchestra half the time because he was just banging his way through it!
My choices for awards after the finals were:
Yeol Eum Son
Zhang really didn't have my attention at all (I actually disliked him) until the finals, but his Gaspard was the best we heard the whole time (the control in Le Gibet!), and I don't see how his concerti were "boring". Sure, his Prokofiev was fairly docile next to Son's, but it was exciting enough in my opinion. And to play Mozart on the level he did was really amazing...
Son was one of my favourites after the semis, and didn't disappoint in the finals for me. I thought her solo recital was a little gutsy (if not downright strange) with no... "bombs"
on it, but it complimented the prok 2nd concerto well I thought. To play something as simple as the Bach-Petri piece she did, and to bring it off so well, would be extremely hard I think.
Vacatello was a little like Zhang for me before the finals. She didn't seem to have a personality at all... but starting with Scarbo (the best of that particular movement of Gaspard that we heard, imo...) and through the Shostakovich p+f in her final round solo recital was awesome. I also loved her Prok 3, even though the last note of the first mvt was at least 2 beats ahead of the orchestra
Di Wu, I was really looking forward to in the finals because her Miroirs was SO amazing in the prelims that I assumed her Gaspard would be equally good, but it just didn't do it for me. What DID do it for me was her Rach 3. Who was it here that said it was a disaster?! Could you explain?
I don't see what ANYBODY here sees in Tsujii. He is really incredible as a blind pianist, but the Cliburn isn't for outstanding blind pianists, it's simply for the best young pianists in the world... Tsujii was clearly not on the same level as the rest of the finalists. For one thing, since he's blind he can't lift his hands more than about an inch or 2 off the keyboard or he would lose his place, but for that reason he can't prepare his hands for the different sounds required most of the time. If only he weren't so darn inspiring...
My choices for the other awards were:
Best Chamber Performance:
Jury Discretionary Award(s):
Eduard Kunz (who I thought by all means should've advanced to the finals over Tsujii or Vacatello, and before I heard the finals, Zhang)
Ran Dank maybe? He seemed REALLY good to me, but I can't put my finger on what I actually liked about him so much (?)
Michail Lifits (his Liszt sonata was incredible apart from the 3 memory slips, which shouldn't happen at this level even if you do hear 3 cell phones ring... STUPID CELL PHONES
Best Performance of a New Work:
Eduard Kunz (I thought this wasn't probable, just because he had to actually start over after the first 2 notes, and there was the one hesitation when the page turner was late... but I thought the feel for that piece was spot on in his performance more than anybody else who played the Bates. and the snapping fingers in the end was awesome!)
Now... hopefully my message wasn't too long for everybody to wade through haha. And yes, that is me getting Kunz's autograph in the semifinal recap/highlights video! FUNNY STORY ABOUT THAT:
I became facebook friends with him a couple days before that, and when I shook his hand there he was like "facebook friends? Austin, right?" I had NO idea what to say or think! Why would he remember me just from becoming friends on fb?? (I don't remember if I've already told this story here or not... it was so exciting hahaha)