Unless you attend a piano recital, it's not often that you get to listen to someone playing the piano sans the orchestra accompaniment. And, it's even more rare to get to listen to professional pianists play in the comfort of your own home. But throughout this weekend, I've had that opportunity.
The sound of solo piano music streams out of my computer speakers. But it's not just any piano music. It's the 2009 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The twenty-nine competitors began their individual recitals on Friday, and thanks to the first-time ever live streaming, I'm listening as often as I can to as many of the contestants as I can.
In some ways, it's difficult to listen to the music alone and not have the audience around to chat about the competitors' performances, but the free price tag (in lieu of a $55 ticket) and the extra in-depth interviews and features (like watching the competitors choose which of the three amazing Steinways they wanted to use for their recitals) seem to more than make up for the isolation factor. Plus, I get to compare who gets the longest and loudest standing ovations and can read the critics' columns and the Cliburn Blog to choose which performances might not be worth watching.
So if you're in need of a mini-concert this holiday weekend, indulge yourself in the sounds streaming from the Steinways at this link. And feel free to judge for yourself who you think will make it to the semi-finals (to be announced Tuesday night).