Zala Kravos at St Mary’s The simplicity and intelligence of a true artist

Tuesday 2 November 3.00 pm

Beethoven: Sonata in C minor Op 13 “Pathétique”
Grave-Allegro / Adagio / Rondo

Debussy: Images Book 1
Reflets dans l’eau / Hommage à Rameau / Mouvement

Scriabin: Prelude and Nocturne for the Left Hand Op 9

Scriabin: Sonata no 2 in G sharp minor Op 19
Andante / Presto

Nice to still be able to be in two places at once.
From my country home in Italy to be able to hear a concert in Perivale was a necessity in the lock down but has now become a luxury.
Thanks to Hugh Mather and his dedicated team of retired professionals I was able to listen to Zala Kravos who I had been advised not to miss by a very informed friend and colleague.

It was from the very first mighty chord of Beethoven’s Pathetique that she immediately caught my attention with the luminosity of sound and a sonority of an unusual richness.The poignancy of the silences too was quite arresting and I have rarely been aware of the importance of this much played work as she shaped the contours with a great sense of architectural line.
Throughout the recital whatever she played had a weight and authority where every note had a meaning and significance from this very arresting opening to the ravishing beauty of the Adagio cantabile where in the contrasting central section she even found a completely different sound that was pure magic.
The Rondo too was played with a clarity and subtle sense of phrasing as she brought such contrast and colour where every note had a meaning.

Debussy Images book 1 was full of ravishing colours from the subtle rubato of Reflets Dan’s l’eau to the stillness and desolation of Hommage a Rameau and the startling gentleness of Mouvement ,as Debussy asks for but very rarely gets,avec une légèreté fantastique mais précise -with a movement usually played like a study rather than the magic sound world that Zala could conjure up today.

There was such luminosity and a superb sense of balance in Scriabin’s Prelude for the left hand and the Nocturne had such ravishing sounds that it was hard to believe that only one hand was in play.

The second sonata was played with a wonderful sense of improvisation and her kaleidoscopic sense of colour allied to her superb natural musicianship gave a great sense of shape to this movement which is just a prelude to the unleashing of rhythmic drive and passion of the second movement.

A real ovation from a full house at St Mary’s and thanks to Dr Mather we were treated to an encore of Scriabin Study op 8 n 12.
It was here that all the qualities that we had enjoyed in this remarkable recital were underlined by a performance of transcendental control,ravishing sound and passionate commitment.

I had not realised that this nineteen year old pianist had already studied with Maria João Pires whose simple musicianship has been admired by a world starved of a transcendental command of the keyboard at the service of music.Pires like Zala today can shed fresh light on works that we have loved and cherished all our lives.Their playing is like a breath of fresh air in a world that we are fast destroying by our own pollution.As in music too where our insistence on bringing historic performances into modern concert halls to a vast public is becoming a case of a little knowledge that can become a dangerous thing.Pires with superb intelligence and scholarship is able to transmit with purity and simplicity the message that the great composers of the past have scribbled down on pieces of paper that of course a real interpreter should consult.Tortelier used to say that he would only play on a baroque cello when they discovered a baroque recording studio!Pires too when I thanked her for all she is doing to help young musicians she replied with simplicity and humility that it is she that should thank them for all that they gave her!I see that Zala continued her studies at La Chapelle with Louise Lortie,a pianist who I have admired for years.At only 19 she is now finishing her studies with another superb musician Norma Fisher -birds of a feather indeed and a disciple ready to be set free soon to fly high.

Zala Kravos was born in 2002 in Slovenia, and her family moved to Luxembourg in 2007. She studied there initially, and from 2012 to 2016 studied at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels, in the piano section headed by Maria João Pires, and continued as the only ‘Young Artist’ with Louis Lortie, the new master in residence until May 2018, when she passed the ‘Young Artist Diploma’ exam. Since September 2019, she has been studying at the Royal College of Music with Norma Fisher. She has won many prestigious awards such as the Gold medal at the “Passion of Music 2016” international competition in New York, and Gold medal in European Competition for Piano Solo Luxembourg 2014 etc. She is quadrilingual (French, English, Slovenian, and Chinese) and likes reading, swimming, ski-ing (Bronze Star at the French Ski School), cycling and roller skating. She comes with exceptional recommendations such as ‘One of the best talents I have ever seen’ (Maria Joao Pires) etc.

From the ever enthusiastic Dr Hugh Mather:Excellent review as always, Christopher, of a remarkable recital. She is terrific and will always be welcome back. It was all remarkable but I was bowled over by her Scriabin, particularly the LH Prelude and Nocturne – simply ravishing control and sound. Here is the HD link


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