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Bachauer kicks off with gala concert

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After an exclusive reception at the Arts Center, the 12th Gina Bachauer Piano Competition officially began with a gala concert that was open to the public.

Featured performers were Dustin Gledhill, winner of the Junior Gina Bachauer competition; Nicholaus Andrich, the 1994 Bachauer gold medalist; and the American piano quartet, a two-piano, eight-hands group consisting of BYU professors.The competition, which runs through June 27, features dozens of the world's best pianists competing for a $10,000 grand prize, a Steinway Piano, a CD recording date from Counterpoint Studios and concerto and recital engagements in cities throughout the world.

Tickets for the entire contest can be purchased through ArtTix (355-ARTS) or at the Capitol Theatre box office.

Of Monday's performers, Gledhill was the most interesting and enjoyable. He began with a Toccata by Prokofiev throughout which he remained relaxed and lively. His dynamic level rose and fell with the natural flow of each phrase. On the whole, his interpretation was spontaneous and organic.

He did seem to back away from the climax, and his `B' section could have been more mysterious. Still, he maintained a nice balance, and his playing was technically flawless.

Gledhill's technique really shone in his second piece: the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. He began with a tasteful aplomb and eased into the softer moments, which resonated with class and taste.

Although his playing was clean and at times, witty, Gledhill only scratched the surface of the humor of this wild piece. However, his ability to take the Rhapsody as fast as he did showcased his technical brilliance and kept the audience on the edge of their seats.

The American Piano Quartet, by contrast, seem to lose some of the audience. They played Liszt's "Le Prelude," which was popularized by "Flash Gordon." Although the quartet displayed excellent sychronicity and meticulous phrasing, they didn't play with enough contrast to accommodate the many repetitions of the piece's theme, and the piece got laborious at times. Still, the sound of eight hands playing simultaneously was a treat.

Although there were some definite bright spots, Nicholaus Andrich seemed bogged down in the thick voicings of Brahms' Opus 116 Capriccios and Intermezzi. The Intermezzo in A Major had moments of clarity, and the Capriccio in G displayed some depth. The greatest highlight of the Brahms pieces was Andrich's soulful phrasing of the Intermezzo in E major's exposed melody. He captured the heavy, mournful mood and made a few truly sublime moments.

Although skillfully executed, the Brahms' pieces did not captivate the audience. Ravel's mystical "Gaspard du la Nuit" was more captivating because of Andrich's stunning dynamic control. The "Scarbo" movement was especially rivetting, featuring a tiny glissando that rose over the course of several minutes to a thundering climax. Andrich maintained the movement's constant buzz - again exhibiting great dynamic control.