Ivelina Krasteva – A recital to cherish ‘ playing of honesty and naturalness’

Tuesday 4 April 3.00 pm 


‘Stumbled on it by chance and stayed to the end! Terrific recital, playing of great honesty and naturalness.’ Julian Jacobson


Musicianly playing of great drive and assurance.The rhythmic precision and scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s indications gave great structural strength to this remarkable sonata.The beauty of the Adagio where her impeccable sense of balance allowed the melodic line to float on a gently throbbing accompaniment.The Presto had a mellifluous pastoral flow that was to be mirrored in the Sonata op 28 that was to follow just a year later.
I have written about her performance of the Beethoven Sonata just a few months ago but it has now matured and gained in weight as she allowed the music to flow through her so naturally. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2023/01/16/ivelina-krasteva-at-st-jamessussex-gardens-intelligence-and-mastery-at-the-service-of-music/

‘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.’

The Barcarolle in F sharp major op.60 was composed between autumn of 1845 and summer 1846, three years before his death.It is one of the pieces where Chopin’s affinity to the bel canto operatic style is most apparent, as the double notes in the right hand along with spare arpeggiated accompaniment in the left hand explicitly imitates the style of the great arias from the bel canto operatic repertoire. The writing for the right hand becomes increasingly florid as multiple lines spin filigree and ornamentation around each other.
This is one of Chopin’s last major compositions, along with his Polonaise – Fantasie op 61.

Her performance of the Barcarolle was new to me and the great song that flowed from Chopin’s soul towards the end of his life found an ideal interpreter where everything she played sang with such luminosity and beauty.The gentle flow created at the opening continued undisturbed with an ever more intense melodic line.It dissolved into the pure magic of the central expansive embellishment of bel canto.It was obviously a glimpse of the paradise that was to await the already tragically weakened composer after his desperate and exasperating visit to Majorca with his companion Georges Sand.The build up to the final exultation was played with aristocratic authority always singing as it built to a passionate climax only to die away to whispered murmurings with a gentle melody just hinted at in the tenor register,that was to be so admired by Ravel ,before the final four strokes of adieux.

The Sonata No 3, Op 23 (1897/8), was finished in the summer of 1898 on a country estate at Maidanovov, shortly before the beginning of Scriabin’s few years as piano professor at the Moscow Conservatoire. Teaching was by no means the central passion his existence: a later appointment at the St Catherine’s Institute for girls ended in scandal with the seduction of a teenage pupil!Scriabin took up the Conservatoire appointment as a means towards financial security in his newly married status.Pupils’ awareness of sound quality was constantly challenged: ‘This chord should sound like a joyous cry of victory, not a wardrobe toppling over!’
The Third Sonata is a large-scale, four-movement work. Within three years Scriabin was to complete his first two symphonies, and this Sonata is symphonic in its polyphony, long-sighted formal construction and thematic development, breadth of phrase and heroic, epic manner.

Several years later a ‘programme’ was issued that some have suggested that the writer was not Scriabin but his second wife, Tatyana Schloezer:

States of Being
a) The free, untamed soul passionately throws itself into pain and struggle
b) The soul has found some kind of momentary, illusory peace; tired of suffering, it wishes to forget, to sing and blossom—despite everything. But the light rhythm and fragrant harmonies are but a veil, through which the uneasy, wounded soul shimmers
c) The soul floats on a sea of gentle emotion and melancholy: love, sorrow, indefinite wishes, indefinable thoughts of fragile, vague allure
d) In the uproar of the unfettered elements the soul struggles as if intoxicated. From the depths of Existence arises the mighty voice of the demigod, whose song of victory echoes triumphantly! But, too weak as yet, it fails, before reaching the summit, into the abyss of nothingness.

The thematic structure of the Third Sonata is particularly closely bound together, both in the relation of themes from all four movements to one another and in their ‘cyclic’ treatment, which harks back to Liszt and César Franck.

I remember well Ivelina’s performance of the Fantasie by Scriabin :
https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/05/30/ivelina-krasteva-for-the-keyboard-trust-simplicity-and-beauty-of-a-thinking-artist/ It was the same architectural shape that she brought to his third Sonata.
Passion and drama allied to a beauty of sound and a sense of line that held the sonata together as the menacing opening motif returns toward the end to give great coherence to the form of a Sonata that is gradually leading to the vision of the ‘star’ that is to be the guiding light for his life and the later prophetic ninth and tenth Sonatas.
Some remarkable performances of three great works played with authority,consummate musicianship and poetic vision.

Bulgarian born classical pianist Ivelina Krasteva is an internationally active solo and chamber musician. Currently based in London, she splits her time between performing, teaching and pursuing a masters degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, under the tutelage of Ronan O’Hora and Katya Apekisheva. In addition to her studies, she has benefitted from playing in masterclasses led by internationally acclaimed musicians, such as Richard Goode, Imogen Cooper, Jonathan Biss, Itamar Golan, Boris Petrushansky, among others. Ivelina has won prizes in international competitions and has performed in venues across Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, Romania, Italy and the UK. Highlights include performances of Ravel’s Concerto in G with the Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra, Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra and Mozart’s 24 th Piano Concerto with the Vratsa State Orchestra, Bulgaria. She is passionate about the standard piano repertoire as well as exploring contemporary music, working with composers and performing works by female composers. Throughout her education, she has been supported with scholarships from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, Prof. Lyuba Encheva Foundation, Henry Wood Accommodation Trust, The Worshipful Company of Pewterers and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


Roger Nellist our genial host today at St Mary’s .He is usually hidden away in the recording booth but today was substituting Dr Hugh Mather in his welcome for today’s world wide audience.


Inserisci i tuoi dati qui sotto o clicca su un'icona per effettuare l'accesso:

Logo di WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Connessione a %s...