Mark Gresham | 22 MAY 2019
Italian pianist Beatrice Rana was originally scheduled to perform at Spivey Hall on Sunday, March 10, two days before making her Carnegie Hall debut in New York that Tuesday evening. She played the Carnegie date, but the Spivey Hall appearance had to be re-scheduled for May 21, also a Tuesday. Sunday afternoons are a familiar time for performances at Spivey Hall by high-end, in-demand guest artists. Tuesdays are not. Even so, a considerable, enthusiastic audience turned out to hear the 26-year-old Rana play the very same demanding repertoire she played at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, — by Chopin, Ravel and Stravinsky — and were well rewarded for their effort.
This was not the first time Rana has appeared as Spivey Hall. She made her Spivey debut in 2014 with a vivid program of Bach, Chopin and Prokofiev. when Spivey Hall’s executive and artistic director Sam Dixon heard Rana play at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, he immediately knew he wanted to book fer into the hall’s prestigious piano series, even before the competition’s award winners were determined and announced. Rana captured both the Competition’s silver medal and the audience award for that year.
Rana opened the program with Frédéric Chopin’s Études, Op. 25, the composer-pianist’s second set of 12 which bear an opus number. While Chopin’s Études are challenging pieces for study of technique, they are also works of great musical substance and an essential part of a professional classical pianist’s concert repertoire.
Rana was able to go beyond playing the etudes as simply a collection of individual works, instead giving a persuasive shape to the entire as threaded episodes within an overarching whole, without the presence of undue pause in between.
After intermission Rana took on Ravel’s poetic but challenging “Miroirs” suite, A successful performance involves a careful balance involving subtlety, pianistic color and an ease of virtuosity to handle those given some of technical challenges Ravel sets forth. Rana achieved a good balance between fancies of artistic temperament and the sense of form that underlies the five-movement suite, leaning one way or the other as the music of the moment required.
She concluded her performance with the final three sections from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” as transcribed in 1928 by Guido Agosti, an Italian pianist and pedagogue who had been a student of Ferruccio Busoni. True that Stravinsky created a piano score of the entire ballet before he orchestrated it, but for rehearsal purposes. Agosti’s arrangements made for a compelling concert set, and a thoroughly impressive finale for Rana.
For her pair of encores, Rana returned to the works of Chopin, playing No.s 15 and 16 of his two-dozen Preludes. ■