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Ran Dank, Winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, in Recital at Weill Hall
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Ran Dank, Winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, in Recital at Weill Hall

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Hilton Head International Piano Competition
2008 First Prize Winner
Ran Dank, Solo Piano
Weill Recital Hall
(Carnegie Hall Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 24, 2008


Pierre Boulez: Douze Notations (1944-45)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 27, No. 1 (1801): Andante-Allegro-Andante, Allegro molto e vivace, Adagio con espressione, Allegro vivace

Mario Davidovsky: Synchronism No. 6 for Piano and Tape (1971)

Franz Liszt: Reminiscences of Norma, S. 394 (1841)

Huang Ruo: Five Lights, Ten Colors (Premiere Performance)

Serge Prokofiev: Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82 (1939-40): Allegro moderato, Allegretto, Tempo di valzer lentissimo, Vivace

Ran Dank, born in Tel Aviv, is the first Prize Winner of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra presented tonight’s concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and Mr. Dank was warmly and enthusiastically received. The Boulez piece, Douze Notations, that opened the concert, was sparkling, atonal, and fragmented, with fascinating, but unconnected phrases. This is a reflective, introspective work, and Mr. Dank treated it with respect, not overplaying the quiet passages. The dissonance was interrupted for deliberate pauses, and Mr. Dank brought out heavy, intense chords toward the finale. The Beethoven Sonata, in contrast, evoked rapid, seamless sequences that blended and flowed with rippling bellicosity. Mr. Dank proved himself a master of the Beethoven oeuvre.

Davidovsky’s Synchronism No. 6 for Piano and Tape was the first work that showcased Mr. Dank’s eclectic repertoire, with its percussive sound scape played simultaneously with the piano from a recording. One could hear recorded cymbals, and there were unpredictable entrances and exits of each sound scape and piano passage. This is a work I would not need to hear again. The first half of tonight’s program closed with Liszt’s Reminiscences of Norma. This is a gorgeous work, with an impassioned balletic motif. Its melodic essence captivates the imagination, and its theme cascades like a waterfall, endlessly, churning into a dervish of melodic motion. Mr. Dank drew from the keyboard the full Steinway potential for mesmerizing musical momentum.

After the intermission, Mr. Dank introduced Huang Ruo’s Five Lights, Ten Colors, and Mr. Ruo was in the audience to hear this Premiere of his composition, specially commissioned for Mr. Dank by the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. The piano had been “prepared” with a white board, and a whistle was available to the artist as well. Mr. Dank played with and without the piano being “prepared”, and this work exemplified a playful, serendipitous experience. At times the presentation was refined, and at times it was searing, as the whistle added sharpness and suddenness. Sometimes Mr. Dank played the strings of the interior piano, and sometimes the chords took on a deeper focus. The piece ended with atonal attacks in staccato rhythms.

My favorite moment of the evening came at the finale, with Mr. Dank’s charismatic interpretation of Prokofiev’s Sixth Piano Sonata. Prokofiev is fond of “quoting himself” in his works, and this Sonata was evocative at times of his ballet scores for Cinderella (which would be composed a few years after) and Romeo and Juliet (which was already composed and mounted). The first movement included a little surreal march with echoing refrains, at times reminiscent of the Capulet Ball. The second movement was playful and rapidly percussive, sometimes evocative of Cinderella’s sisters’ antics. The third movement, decidedly slow and distinguished, was replete with a lonely, sensitive waltz, which at times was evocative of Juliet’s tormented dance. The fourth and final movement was infused with swirling and skipping phrases, within the riveting theme. Kudos to Ran Dank.

Huang Ruo and Ran Dank
Courtesy of Hilton Head International Piano Competition

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at