American Dreaming: Cliburn Silver medalist Kenneth Broberg and five local pianists thrill in the Cliburn at the Modern’s American Showpieces concert
J. Robin Coffelt, Theater Jones
The Cliburn at the Modern series is best known for its composer forums. But Saturday’s concert, although it did include the work of 20th and 21st century American composers, instead highlighted several local pianists—as well as one guest.
The five DFW-based pianists on Saturday’s program proved the depth of musical talent in our area. Catharine Lysinger, Evan Mitchell, Jonathan Tsay, Alex McDonald, and concert moderator Shields-Collins Bray are all formidable pianists, though each brought his or her own temperament and strengths. The only non-local musician was 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Silver Medalist Kenny Broberg.
The repertoire on the program was all American, and with one exception, was from 1977 or later. That outlier was Broberg’s contribution, the Fuga from Samuel Barber’s 1949 Sonata for Piano, Op. 26. This sonata movement, which ended the program, was not the lyrical Barber that we recognize from, say, the Adagio for Strings or the Violin Concerto. Instead, this is thorny, unmelodic, but impressively complex, with as many as six voices. Broberg executed this immensely difficult repertoire with seeming ease, leaving little doubt as to why he was selected as a Cliburn medalist.