Anna Tsybuleva – Mastery at St Marys’

Anna Tsybuleva – Mastery at St Mary’s
CPE Bach: Piano Sonata in A major, No.4 W55
Beethoven: Piano Sonata in D minor Op 31 no 2Schubert: 12 Deutsche Ländler, D790
Schubert: Fantasy in C D760 ‘/Wanderer’

It was a few years ago that I heard Anna Tsybuleva’s London debut at the Wigmore Hall as winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition.
I had met Dame Fanny Waterman,the founder and lifeblood of the Leeds, in Oxford.
Later,the next spring, in wishing her birthday greetings from Italy we discovered that we had both heard a magnificent concert transmitted live from the Wigmore Hall on BBC Radio 3.
She in Leeds and I in Italy.
We had great fun exchanging views and saying how wonderful the concert had been with Graham Johnson at the piano (I cannot remember the name of the very fine baritone) .
We both agreed that Graham is one of the greatest accompanists of our day, a just heir to Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons.
Graham and I were contemporaries at the Royal Academy and even shared, in our first year, chamber music coaching from John Streets.
I put Graham and her in touch much to their mutual delight.
So when we met at the Wigmore Hall at the end of Anna’s recital I
was pleased to say in person how much I had enjoyed the second half of the recital.
I did not say that the first half of CPE Bach and Schumann had left me very perplexed whereas the second of Debussy and Medtner was quite superb.
”You must have been asleep in the first half then” she immediately replied!
Dame Fanny is invariably right and judging by what I heard today she may very well have been or at least saw what potential lay behind the notes having heard Anna in all the rounds in Leeds that led to her ultimate victory.
A CPE Bach that I heard today, with the superb streaming from St Mary’s, that showed a complete mastery.
An infectious almost electric sense of rhythm and a great sense of characterisation.An almost euphoric enjoyment as she played with such spirit and obvious joy.
The transition, quasi recitativo, from the Allegro to the Andante was quite magical and played with a subtle sense of colour and rubato that made every note speak so eloquently.Deeply felt, it led into the Allegro finale played with great contrasts and a conversation between upper and lower registers of the keyboard that was quite exhilarating.
I think Anna has matured and grown in confidence since her Wigmore debut recital and as she herself said she felt at home at St Mary’s.With such an appreciative warm audience she could relax and enjoy the music too,
The trial was over and she could allow the artistry, that Dame Fanny had noted, to flower and mature.
It was the same with the Beethoven Sonata op 31 n.2 (The Tempest).
It reminded me of the debut recitals of Ashkenazy when he too played the sonatas op 31 together with the Chopin studies in two memorable recitals.
It was as though we were hearing these well known works for the first time such was the complete mastery of sound and colour.
A complete understanding of the style and above all Beethoven’s indications scrupulously interpreted.
Not just played because written on the page but as Murray Perahia has said in his memorable interview with Arie Vardi on you tube:”a true artists has to understand what in his opinion the composer wanted to convey and translate that into sound but also adding his own personality and experience too.To make the music a living experience. “ https://youtu.be/T-RHiS4H_xE
Her performance today was like quicksilver in the changes of colour and character and it made one realise just how revolutionary this fairly early work of Beethoven’s must have been received by the public of the day.
Respecting also how the music was written on the page.
There was no changing of hands to hold long bass notes as is so often the case but she hinted at them the same.
Beethoven’s long pedals were beautifully interpreted and the staccato pianissimo chords that led back into the allegro sounded like the orchestra coming in after the cadenza.The deep bass notes especially in the recitativi were quite overwhelming in their quiet authority. The deep bass pianissimo rumblings and the two final chords created the magic for the personalities that were to enter centre stage in the Adagio.
The music spoke with such immediacy that one could almost see the curtain rising for the drama that was about to unfold.
The contrasts between the sumptuous melody and the dotted rhythm after dry comments from the timpani and flutes was wonderfully realised.The telling dotted rhythm beautifully poignant (I would have kept the rhythm after the right hand turns that she chose to relax).Ending in a murmur always with that dotted rhythm in view.
The Allegretto drifted in lazily gradually picking up momentum.
There was a delicious lilt to the rondo theme with a very telling rubato so subtle as to be almost unnoticeable.
A meticulous attention to detail that was just as I remembered Ashkenazy all those years ago when I heard this sonata in the Festival Hall for the very first time.
A beautiful music box effect before the final triumphant entry of our,by now, old friend disappearing like scarbo into the quiet depths of the keyboard.
A quite remarkable performance that kept me mesmerised thousands of miles away in the depths of the Italian countryside.
The 12 Schubert Landler showed a great sense of style sometimes with a great Viennese lilt or a beautiful sense of legato.An almost Chopinesque rubato and elegance sometimes of great nostalgia or great majestic rhythmic impulse .They were a kaleidoscope of emotions and colours played with such emotive participation.
It led to a monumental performance of the Wanderer Fantasy. A great sense of architectural shape that did not allow her to wallow or alter the great rhythmic drive of the first movement.
There was great attention to detail and the chords usually bashed out fortissimo in the recapitulation were played as Schubert indicated in the score and were integrated into what had preceeded them.
Schubert has written out his own ritardando before the Wanderer Adagio and if respected, as today, it is even more poignant than the usual slowing down.
Very subtle expression so similar to the great lieder for which Schubert is best known. The left hand demisemiquavers just a subtle link to the magical appearance of the melody with a typical Schubertian accompaniment.Embellishments gleaming like magic as the bass filled in the harmonies leading to a great passionate outburst.Dying away on a cloud that links up to the Presto.Great washes of sound and a lovely lilt to the waltz in the middle episode.

With our host Dr Hugh Mather
A passionate climax led to the Allegro fugato that was played with ever more fervancy and rhythmic drive.
A Hymn of triumph with a great sense of balance and contrasts even in the most troubled waters.
An ovation from a packed audience that had come to hear this great young artist.
They were rewarded with scintillating encore of Saint Saens’ “Etude en forme de valse.”
A great ‘cavallo di battaglia’ of Alfred Cortot. It’s technical difficulties thrown off with an ease and nonchalance that is of a different era.
The Golden Age of piano playing indeed.
There were seemless streams of gold that we were treated to today.
Will Dame Fanny ever forgive me?
Anna Tsybuleva shot into the international spotlight in 2015 when she won First Prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition, being described as “A pianist of rare gifts: not since Murray Perahia’s triumph in 1972 has Leeds had a winner of this musical poise and calibre”. Now a regular performer in major cities worldwide, Anna’s early experiences were more modest: born in 1990, she was raised in Nizhny Arkhyz – a small village of approximately 500 inhabitants – in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic of Russia. She took her first piano lessons with her mother at the age of 6, before moving away from home in order to attend the Shostakovich Music School in Volgodonsk at the age of 9. From age 13, she continued her studies at the Moscow Central Music School and the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, under internationally renowned pedagogue Professor Lyudmila Roschina. During this time, Tsybuleva garnered other major competition wins – including the Grand Prix of the International Gilels Piano Competition (2013), and top prizes from the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (2012) and Takamatsu International Piano Competition (2014). After graduating in 2014 with the coveted award for ‘Best Student’ from the Moscow Conservatoire, Tsybuleva furthered her studies with Claudio Martínez-Mehner at the Hochschule für Musik Basel. She now combines her international performance career with completion of post-graduate studies at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire.
Tsybuleva appears regularly throughout Europe, including in recital on some of the greatest international stages, such as Palais des Beaux-Arts , Philharmonie Luxembourg , Tonhalle Zürich , and the Wigmore Hall . As concerto soloist, recent and forthcoming highlights include Basel Symphony, the Hallé, Mariinsky Orchestra, Oxford Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Tsybuleva is in high demand in Asia, with recent and forthcoming concerto engagements including those in Singapore (Singapore Symphony), South Korea (Daejeon Philharmonic), and Japan (Tokyo Philharmonic), as well as recitals at the Shanghai Grand Theatre and Hong Kong Concert Hall, amongst others. Her debut solo recording, Fantasien (Champs Hill, 2017) garnered universal praise for its imaginative and carefully crafted programme. With her “energetic elan, bravura, and heart-on-sleeve communication” (International Piano Magazine), Anna Tsybuleva is fast emerging as one of the finest pianists of her generation, “destined to become a world piano star” (APE Musicale, Italy)

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