Beatrice Rana in Rome The Supreme Stylist

Beatrice Rana in Rome – The supreme stylist
Beatrice Rana the supreme stylist …..triumph of sublime sounds rarely heard in the concert hall these days.
Chopin studies even better than I remember from London.
Each one a miniature tone poem that amazingly seemed to grow one out of the other until the overwhelming tumultuous waves of the last study.
Albeniz full of ravishing colours and sudden changes of mood.
Alicia de Larrocha has always been my rule by which I compare all others.
After tonight it will be Beatrice Rana.
I remember Pollini`s Petrushka from his two debut recitals in London forty years ago.
Wonderful though it was the layers of sounds that were revealed tonight were of another world completely.
With Pollini we were astonished tonight we were seduced.
Overwhelmed indeed by this waif of an unasuming young girl who is already one of the greatest artists before the public today.
The sublime beauty of Chopins 13th Prelude played as an encore for the 2000 people in delirium was matched by the simple but very subtle clarity of Bach`s Gigue from the 1st Partita.
The studies together with her miraculous Ravel Miroirs can be heard live from the Wigmore Hall in London on  Sunday 1st December at 11.30.And at the Wigmore again on the 7th February at 19.30 Bach Italian Concerto,Schumann Sonata op 14 1836 version( Concerto senza orchestra) Iberia Bk 3 ,Petrushka.
Overwhelmed again by the 5th study with the middle melodic section shaped as I have only heard from the hands of Rubinstein.
The opening played sottovoce but finishing like a great drama.Out of the mist appeared as if magic the sixth in double thirds that were seemless streams of gold in which the left hand melody was hinted at with a subtlety that was a revelation as Perlemuter had shown us years ago.The seventh too entered almost unnoticed with such beauty that the duet between the right hand and left was a true revelation for its sublime tenderness.
Never any hardness with the usual battle between the hands or of Cortot’s choice to give the stage to the left hand alone.
The eighth slipped in with a velocity of washes of sound with a supreme sense of legato.
The “butterfly” fluttered in on this wash of sound and how it fluttered away at the end was nothing short of miraculous.
Enormous sonorities for the mighty octave study but with hidden inner sounds that seemed to emerge and disappear like a ‘will- 0’ -the wisp.’
The extreme calm at the opening of the ‘Winter wind’ study with an almost inaudible pianissimo made the entry of the left hand polonaise rhythm even more overwhelming.
An overpowering ending in which the tumultuous waves in C minor swept us all away on a sea of passionate emotions.
But even here there were very subtle changes of dynamic that allowed a gradual increase in sound without any hardness.
A sense of balance quite unique in these days where the modern Steinway can accomodate ,and too often does, sledgehammer sensibilities.
Here the piano sound was always of supreme beauty and never allowed to harden or become a showpiece and excuse for empty showmanship.
An Albeniz full of nostalgia and ravishing Spanish atmospheres.
Sudden changes of mood too took us by surprise in El Albaicin in the final few bars with a sudden return to the festa.
A wonderful luminosity of sound in El Polo and a frenzied sense of dance in Lavapié full of the joy and subtle colours and rhythms of Spain.
The layers of sound in Petrushka were played with a relentless rhythmic drive .One could  see the characters entering the stage in the second movement that began almost before the Danse russe had finished.
The Semaine Grasse was full of extraordinary colours and explosions of sound.
A full orchestra from the magic hands of this waif of a girl that has been truly blessed with a unique gift of communication that I have only heard similar from another beautiful lady of the name of Martha Argerich.
This is what I wrote about her studies in London recently:click the link below to see full article with photos(That did not reproduce in what is opened below)
Beatrice Rana takes London by storm
“Wonderful ……… of the most beautiful performances of things we have heard so often but tonight they glittered like the jewels that Chopin must have imagined”
That I wrote in the interval ..”.lovely surprise to be in London again to hear you……”
I have heard Beatrice Rana play many times in Italy also at the Wigmore Hall in London.
I remember her Goldberg Variations in London broadcast live from the Wigmore Hall but also in Rome a year later which was televised .A remarkable enough performance in London that Stephen Kovacevich particularly admired.The later performance in Rome was even more extraordinary for its maturity and rock like sense of direction.I was told by Prof.Pieralbero Biondi that her final exam performance at S.Cecilia had the jury members cheering at the end.
After all her successes worldwide she had returned home to her original teacher Benedetto Lupo with whom she had studied as a child at the Monopoli Conservatory in Puglia She returned to his class at the Academy of S. Cecilia inspite of his insistence that she should branch out on her own now.
But between Benedetto Lupo,Sir Antonio Pappano and the Academy of S. Cecilia she had returned home to work on her scores in peace and serenity and delve ever more deeply into the music to which she was destined since her birth in Puglia of a family of musicians.
Facsimile of Chopin manuscript
And so it was today that we heard the Chopin Studies op 25 played as the composer had indicated.Each of the 12 studies was a miniature tone poem.Bathed in the sunlight that Chopin’s own pedal indications had asked for she shaped each one with a luminosity and poetry that I have only heard similar on the old recording of Cortot. Completely different of course but the one thing- the most important thing in common was the poetry that is concealed in what are conceived also as studies.
The Aolian Harp of the first study showing exactly what Sir Charles Halle had described on hearing Chopin on his last tour in Manchester.
”Il faut graver bien distintemente les grandes e les petites notes” writes Chopin at the bottom of the first page .Long pedal markings overlapping the bar lines and the pianissimo asked for by Chopin so perfectly played by Beatrice. The long held pedal at the end gave such an etherial magical sound.
Study n,2
The second study too like silk.Not the usual note for note performances we are used to but washes of sound perfectly articulated of course but with the poetry and music utmost in mind.The final three long “C’s” which can sound out of place were here of a magic that one never wanted them to stop.
The third and fourth to contrast were played with great clarity with some suprising inner notes that gave such substance and depth to the sound.Here was not only a supreme interpreter but also a great personality.The end of the fifth that linked up to the 6th.It grew out of the final crescendo flourish that always had seemed out of place .Here in Beatrice’s hands it is exactly as Chopin in his own hand has indicated.
Study 5 to 6 link that Chopin indicates in his own hand
Here too one must mention the sumptuous middle melody of the fifth played with a wonderful sense of balance and also a flexibility of pulse that again showed the hands of a great musical personality.I have only heard a similar sense of “rubato” live from Rubinstein although Murray Perahia on CD is pure magic too.
The technically difficult double thirds accompanied the left hand melodic line with a subtle sense of sound like a wind passing over the grave indeed !The absolute clarity and jeux perle of the “double” double thirds was just the relief and contrast that was needed.
Beautiful sense of colour in the Lento that is the 7th study where Chopin marks so clearly that the melody is in the left hand with only counterpoint comments from the right( Cortot and Perlemuter are the only others that I have heard make this distinction so clearly)The 8th played very much molto legato and sotto voce to contrast with the absolute clarity of the “ Butterfly” study that is n.9.The ending that can sound so abrupt in some hands here was perfectly and so naturally shaped
The “Winter Wind” study n.11
The great octave study entered like a mist as Chopin indicates poco a poco crescendo .Bathed in pedal too even though not indicated so precisely by Chopin.Such was her identification with this sound world she had seen this study as great wedges of sound interrupted only by the extreme legato cantabile of the middle Lento section. Chopin marks very precisely here the fingering he wants to obtain this effect.
The great “Winter Wind” study n. 11 where there were great washes of sound ,again as Chopin so clearly indicates .The final great scale played unusually cleanly with a very precise final note.Of course all clearly indicated in Chopin’s own hand .
Study n. 12.
The final 12th study was played with enormous sonority and very clear melodic line as Chopin indicates very clearly .The ending marked “ il piu forte possibile” and a final crescendo to “fff”. It brought this revelatory performance to a breathtaking ending.
We had been taken on such an unexpected journey that my original thought was a first half of only 30 minutes?But such a performance and vision could not have been shared with anything else and quite rightly was presented by a master as the absolute masterpiece it is.
After the interval Miroirs played with all the magical sounds and complete mastery that is rarely heard in concert these days.The beauty and variation of colour was again a revelation.But coming after the Chopin I could not appreciate fully all the detail that she was outlining as she spun her delicate web of sound.Maybe here a more classical approach less fussy might have led to more clarity?Too many hairpins that the long line was not what I was used to hearing from the aristocratic french school. But hearing my colleagues who had come to hear a Master I realise that the unease was with me not with her!
We were soon woken out of the cocoon of sound by Agosti’s extraordinary transcription of Stravinsky Firebird.
It was written in 1928 and a fellow student of Agosti,Peter Bithell, told me that it was Stravinsky himself that had had it published.
Agosti and his wife were great friends of my wife and I , and the sounds that he could conjure from the piano in private I have never forgotten.His crippling stage fright meant that the vast public were robbed of hearing one of the greatest musicians – a disciple of Busoni. We managed to bully him into playing Beethoven op 111 and op 110 in public in our theatre but he always had to precede it with a spoken introduction .It is one of the few recordings of this genius that we have .
I never heard him play the Firebird although I suspect he taught it in Siena where the world used to flock to his studio in the summer months to hear sounds that will never be forgotten.
I am sure that had he heard Beatrice play today he would have been filled with pride as to how she could realise the sounds that are transformed from the orchestra to the piano so magically.
A standing ovation and two encores from the Preludes by Chopin op 28.
Again even more of a revelation with the F sharp major prelude n.13 that can sound so disjointed in lesser hands. Here was allowed to sing with a simplicity and a sense of line that so often is disrupted by a less than flowing left hand.Here is the true rubato that Chopin described to his aristocratic pupils.The trees with the roots firmly in the ground and the branches free to sway simply and naturally above .The piu lento middle section was played as from afar but with such a magical sound projected as only a true master could have judged.The final few notes were played so naturally and with such gradations of sound that allowed the prelude to disappear to nothing as it had appeared
It led one of those rare moments of silence where no one dared even breath.
A magisterial account of the Prelude in B flat minor broke the spell and showed us just what a virtuoso we had in our midst.Digging deep into the bass to give depth to the swirling sounds that she was spinning with such passion
in the right hand.
Of course many of the finest pianist were present and above all her greatest admirer Stephen Kovachevich and she greeted us all with a simplicity gladly signing her CD’s and talking to her friends and admirers.
At 26 we have a great master in our midst and it is lovely to know that she is from Puglia.That part of Italy blessed indeed for so many magnificent things .The land of Riccardo Muti, Benedetto Lupu,Nino Rota,Gioconda de Vito,Paolo Grassi , Tito Schipa,burrata,focaccia,vino di Locorotondo and the Spanish baroque of the Vallee D’Itria- Martina Franca and Lecce,of course at the very heel -the Florence of the south.
It can now be proud to boast Beatrice Rana.
Greeting her public and signing CD’s after the recital

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