Yulianna Avdeeva at St John`s Smith Square
Winner of the first prize at the Chopin Competition in 2010,with Lukas Genuisas 2nd and Danil Trifonov 3rd.
A programme of Beethoven and Liszt which showed off her superb musicianship to the full
Only after great insistence from an enthusiastic public did she play some Chopin : the Nocturne op posth in C sharp minor and the great Polonaise Heroique op 53.
A first half of two Beethoven Sonatas op 90 and op 81a “Les adieux” separated by the 32 variations in C minor .
Playing of not only great intelligence but also of a musicality of such simplicity that these well known works were as if re born . The simplicity and directness that is the hallmark of great interpreters.
The two movement op 90 sonata played with such lyricism but also such rhythmic impulse that the contrasts in the opening ,movement and eventual disintegration were quite startlingly fresh.Vivaciously and with feeling and expression throughout as Beethoven asks .
The beautiful second movement seemed to enter as if from afar and the sheer beauty of her tone was enough to allow the most lyrical of Beethoven’s sonatas to sing in a very simple and direct manner .Not too quickly and very songfully as again Beethoven beseeches his interpreters.
“Les Adieux” seemed to enter into the same world.
Can the opening have ever been played more poignantly and with such sentiment ? Always with such a refined palate and a musicianship allied to a seemingly infallible technical command of every nuance that one was hardly aware of her presence such was the direct communication between the music and the people privileged to overhear these wondrous sounds.
The same sound world in fact of another great interpreter that was our much missed Alicia De Larrocha whose Beethoven op 28 “Pastorale” will long live in my memory for the same direct almost child like simplicity of one who has totally dedicated themselves to bringing to life the scribblings on the page .
The rarely heard 32 variations in C minor were just the right choice for this first half dedicated to the almost impressionistic side of Beethoven .
Of course the virtuosistic passages here and in the last movement of Les Adieux were dispatched with all the assurance and impulsive energy but never a smudged note of the cascading scales that were like jewels in her hands.
Rugged jewels too if needed in this pianists total control of her kaleidoscopic sound world .
The second half was dedicated to Liszt .
Again one was made aware of the wondrous sounds never percussive as these three late works were allowed to seep out of this big black box almost like some exotic perfume or mist .
La lugubre gondola ,Unstern and RW Venezia in which all Liszt’s anguish and deep inner feelings were given full reign in this strange sound world that he inhabited in his moments of grief.
Leading without a pause into the mysterious opening notes of the great Sonata in B minor.
A magnificent musicianly performance in which all the traditional rhetoric had been replaced by someone who had the means and will to delve deeply into this Romantic masterpiece.
It has no relevance to talk about her superb octaves or transcendental technical control when you are before an interpreter of such class,refinement and musicianship.
This great work was restored to the pinnacle of the piano repertoire where it richly deserves to be .