Some very assured musicianly playing from Ivelina Krasteva in St James’ Sussex Gardens.
Beethoven’s op 22 Sonata was paired with the equally youthful 2nd Sonata of Prokofiev.Many striking similarities with their quixotic changes of character and dynamic rhythmic drive allied to a subtle sense of balance and colour.
Beethoven in particular showed her great sense of architectural shape as she not only imbued each movement with subtle detail and character but managed to combine all four movements into a unified whole of great significance.
Such refined detail in the first movement ‘Allegro con brio’ where the seemingly innocent opening motif is transformed in so many genial ways ,a similar opening to his even earlier Sonata op 2 n 3.
But now Beethoven has realised the great significance of the bass as he leaves his Haydnesque early world and strikes out into unexplored territory.
A journey that will pervade his complete musical evolution (or revolution) through the thirty two sonatas that span his total existence on earth .
The final sonatas pointing already to a celestial world away from the sturm und drang of his earthly existence.
Ivelina realised this and it was the bass that she gave such weight to in the first movement.The melodic line in the development was allowed to murmur in the bass so magically where above were mere vibrations of sound.
An Adagio where the bass notes were hardly audible as she stroked and caressed them providing a carpet of sound on which Beethoven’s mellifluous outpouring could unwind with such beauty and aristocratic shape.Magic sounds where the left hand that was a mere heartbeat on which ever more expressive appoggiaturas could float with poignant significance.There was purity and simplicity as Ivelina allowed this extraordinary movement to unfold with simplicity and subtle projection.
I remember being baffled by a critic writing about Richter’s performance in London on one of his first visits to the west.I did not understand at the time what he meant with ‘the Adagio was inexistant’.We had only just begun to understand the extraordinary sound world of the Russian school untainted by tradition as it was in the hands of this gigantic pianistic genius.
Ivelina too today looked afresh at a Sonata that we have lived with for a lifetime.
She imbued it with a clarity and intelligence that took us by surprise as it must have done when the ink was still fresh on the page.
There was a simple mellifluous flow to the Minuetto followed by vibrations of sound answered by the distant strains of a march.A trio played with great control as the weaving strands in the left hand were allowed to flow with ease.A Rondo of pastoral grace and charm interrupted by ever more dramatic insistent episodes of febrile energy.A fugato where the dynamic pieces were gradually calmed ,burning themselves out as they found their way back to the Rondo that was now embellished with great style and charm.
From the first notes of Prokofiev’s second sonata we were plunged into a world of savage rhythms and sensual sounds.The opening pastoral innocence interrupted by celestial sounds and episodes of dynamic energy.A pedal note that is but a menacing rumble in the bass while frenzied energy is suddenly gathering force above.A Scherzo that was a continuous rhythmic outpouring played with relentless dynamic energy and a grotesque sense of humour.
There was deep mediation in the Andante with the ravishing beauty of the melodic line over an ever moving wave of unearthly sounds.A treble eerily meandering over an insistent bass in continual motion ever more intense.
There was a bustling rhythmic energy to the ‘vivace’ with an almost french flavour of sarcastic humour.A magical reappearance of the first movement theme was given a quixotic work over tainted by the good humoured banter of this early work as yet untouched by a world that had still to open up and turn upside down Prokofiev’s whole existence.
Two works on their first outing for Ivelina that showed her mature intelligent musicianship and superb technical control.