Anna goes to war- Anna Geniushene plays Prokofiev 8th Sonata at the RAM
It was nice to be back in my old Alma Mater and be reminded of what a trial the final days can be.
Anna Geniushene`s mentor Christopher Elton was,like me, from the school of our much loved and respected Gordon Green.
I graduated with the MacFarren Gold Medal in 1972 – Christopher a year or two earlier after he had graduated from Cambridge.
No trial though for Anna as she threw herself fearlessly into the fray and gave a truly heroic performance of Prokofiev`s Eighth Sonata,the last of his trilogy of war sonatas.
I had heard her play it in the final of the Busoni Competition and was as astonished then as I was today by the relentless energy and total conviction with which she went to war.
This is the great Russian no nonsense school of Lazar Berman or Denis Matsuev.
Fingers like limpets that search deep into the keys to find the sonorities that Prokofiev demands.
Matthay has no part to play in this world where charm and subtle colours are banished to the horrors of war.
I did miss though the subtle charm and colours that Horowitz or Michelangeli regaled us with in their early discovery of Clementi`s sonatas.
But she brought to it a clarity, precision and control that were remarkable.
Some exquisite cantabile with brilliant interruptions rather than the embellishments of a great bel canto singer.
Debussy`s elusive “Berceuse heroique” was most beautifully shaped with some truly magical moments where her clarity and lack of sentimentality and spare use of pedal had found the ideal interpreter.
In Tchaikowky`s Romance op 51 n.5 she allowed herself to bask a little in subtle,languid sounds before throwing herself full throttle into the Scherzo a la russe as only a Russian can.
All best wishes to Anna for her career that has already taken her to many parts of the globe and also includes her CD of Rachmaninov op 33 and Prokofiev`s 8th Sonata to be issued in July .