Beatrice Rana- a tornado ignites the Wigmore Hall

Beatrice appeared on stage looking like a thousand dollars but playing like a tornado .
Unleashing an electric energy that started with the ravishing beauty of a mixture of Preludes op 11 and 16 culminating in the study in C sharp minor op 42 of red hot blazing energy.It blew itself out with searing passion but out of the ashes arose the other C sharp minor study op 2 with a whispered insinuating beauty that was as breathtaking as it was ravishing.The opening Prelude op 11 n.16 misterioso indeed as it shadows the funeral March that is still to come.
What a start to a journey of discovery that was to leave us astonished bewitched and bewildered.
A Chopin B flat minior sonata with an imperious opening declaration before a rhythmically aggressive doppio movimento that had unexpected drive and overwhelming authority .Of course she repeated the opening at the ritornello and for once there was no doubt that this is what Chopin wanted of this overdebated detail.
Unbridled aggression in the development dissolved into a second subject of such contrast as it was barely whispered leading inexorably to the final tumultuous chords .The scherzo just grew out of the last chord being almost a continuation of the red hot flame that had been ignited.Momentarily calmed by a più lento of such subtle colouring and sensual rubato before the return of the scherzo but remembered like a dream in the coda with a final gentle chord and two bass notes plucked out of thin air
And then a miracle occurred with the Funeral march.Expressionless as it made its relentless journey to the trio where Beatrice Rana barely touched the notes with a transcendental control of barely audible sounds.The return of the funeral March and its massive climax was quite overwhelming in its emotional impact as was the harrowing stillness of the final few emotionless gasps.
The wind on the graves was just that,with sounds puffing and blowing over the keys.Suddenly out of the mist there was the throbbing of a heartbeat of such intensity before blowing itself out.Not before the dying breath had some unimaginably expressive counterpoints that I had never been aware of before.The final explosion was a tumultuous release.

I thought overwhelming until after the interval when Beatrice unleashed the opening of the Hammerklavier like an atomic explosion .Using two hands right over left to get more power that I think even Serkin would have approved because she had truly understood this monumental opening as Beethoven could only have imagined it in his head.She did not play it at Beethoven’s metronome marking as Schnabel tried to do but she did play it with the implied wild struggle contrasting with moments of sublime release.
No repeat meant that this monumental movement arrived immediately at the release of the fugato played with astonishing clarity even at this demonic speed .The alternating interjected chords over a rumbling ostinato base in the coda was astonishing and terrifying at the same time.
The cadenza of the Scherzo too saw a wild abandon as she raced to the top of the keyboard with a dynamic athleticism that was truly astonishing .The trio just floated on waves of shifting harmonies.
The astonishing stillness that she created with the opening two chords of the Adagio created a magic atmosphere for one of Beethoven’s most sublime utterances .The end of the Adagio after moments of searing passion and religious meditation was a miracle of sounds where there was an aching silence created in a hall full to the rafters for this beautiful young pianist.
The fugue was taken at an astonishing speed but it was not the speed but the energy that was unleashed with pungent punched out declarations of the fugue subject that was so astonishing and that led to a tumultuous climax.Total silence that seemed like an eternity Beatrice barely touching the keys in a religious communion like a plain chant which built up to the final explosion where Beatrice really let us have it as Serkin had done all those years ago at the Festival Hall .
I have never forgotten Serkins performance as I shall never forget todays .

Beatrice receiving the standing ovation with such simplicity and even able to offer a thank you to a public in delerium.
What to play after the Hammerklavier ?
The dying swan of course in the bewitching transcription of Godowsky that Cherkassky used to play and who even played it at his own funeral!
The same ravishing sounds and beguiling rubato .Shura would have been 113 only 3 days ago and is still much missed.
I begin to believe in reincarnation though but then I am totally drunk on what I have experienced this evening

With Stephen Kovacevich
A long queue to autograph CD’s
Alim Baesembeyev recent winner of Leeds

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