Sunday, October 27th, 2013. Autumn in New York. In the streets, people wear their warm jackets, the leaves on the trees are preparing to fall, and even though we still see green in that foliage, everyone knows that not much time will pass before we see yellows and reds--and then, all too soon, it will be winter. At 881 Seventh Avenue, through whose inner sanctum such figures as Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Mahler have passed, the doors of Carnegie Hall open and as we enter the “Main Hall”, of yesteryear, now the “Isaac Stern Auditorium”, we catch our first glimpse of this sunny afternoon's featured guests: The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony and its director David Bernard, who open the program with Antonin Dvorak's "Carnival Overture". The overture is followed by the Concerto for Violín and Orchestra in D major by Johannes Brahms. featuring a scintillating performance by the young Jourdan Urbach on violín. It is now intermission. While the public exchanges comments in the hallways, some people sipping their drinks, in dressing room 2A, Daniela, age 11, a girl from Guadalajara, prepares to confront her New York audience.
I wondered at this point, "What could be passing through Daniela Liebman's mind?", minutes before her debut in one of the greatest forums for the arts in the universe, about to interpret the Concerto Number 2 for Piano and Orchestra of Dimitri Shostakovich. When she arrived onstage my doubts were dispelled: she appeared so tranquil and comfortable, sporting a smile from ear to ear and tremendous calm, that I began to think that perhaps she had no idea of the transcendental nature of her presence here. From the opening bars of the first movement, allegro, of the concerto, premiered in Moscow in 1957 with the composer at the piano, Liebman proved that she was up to the occasion; far from shrinking back she grew to the challenge, clearly demonstrating her amazing technique, domination of the work and interpretative expressiveness. Upon beginning the andante, of great intrínsic technical difficulty --not just because of the fast scale passages but mainly for its crystalline melodic line--, I felt this Guadalajara girl's excitement about being here, underneath the outward tranquility, as she filled the hall to the brim with sweetness and grand dynamic contrasts. The third movement, more than just being the apogee of the concerto, turned into a comet come down to collide with an enthusiastic audience. As the last note continued to ring, the Carnegie Hall spectators jumped to their feet with thunderous applause as shouts of “brava” echoed from all parts of the auditorium.
Before the program's final work, the Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliette Fantasy Overture, Miss Liebman crowned her successful debut with two encores, both of which leaped from her hands like sparks: la Toccata de V. Fillipenko and the Etude Op.25 No.12 de Chopin, each one played with an élan that made it seem easy. What a conclusion! A great day for the very young pianist, who is set to perform a concert in Munich, this month of November, with the famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang.
By Jorge Arturo Alcázar