On Sunday evening, June 24th, Dang Thai Son, winner of the 1980 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, played an interesting recital in Miami to open a Chopin Festival organized by Kevin Kenner, winner of the 1990 Chopin Competition. For many years Dang Thai son had not been allowed to play in the United States because he was born in Hanoi, Vietnam. His program consisted of works by Schubert, Chopin, Paderewski, and Liszt. Opening with Schubert’s Allegretto in C minor, D.915 and the 12 German Dances, D.790, Dang Thai Son’s soft pianissimos and pedaling were magical. His wonderful sonority, pedaling, and remarkable fingers were also evident in the three Chopin Mazurkas, although his approach to the Barcarolle did not make me forget Moiseiwitsch, Rubinstein or Horowitz.
After intermission, his approach to five Paderewski miniatures was again often magical. The concluding Reminiscences of Bellini’s Norma by Liszt brought the audience to its feet but did not erase the indelible memory of Ivan Davis’s incomparable performances of the Norma Paraphrase in which brilliant virtuosity was coupled with a unique understanding and affection for Italian opera that was without peer. The encore, the slow movement from Schubert’s late Sonata, D. 958, was again conveyed with beautiful, soft sonority.