Sunday, 27 June 2010

KATYA GRINEVA Piano Recital / Review


Esplanade Concert Hall

Thursday (24 June 2010)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 26 June 2010.

Right smack in the very week of the Singapore International Piano Festival, New York-based Russian pianist Katya Grineva did well to attract a sizeable audience at the Esplanade. Having performed at Carnegie Hall for eleven successive seasons, Grineva was probably used to playing for large audiences. However she does not project a particularly big sonority, instead favouring a more intimate sound of a salon-like quality.

This worked well for pieces like Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1, an unusual recital choice, where arch-simplicity and spaciousness were reflected with gem-like radiance. Same went for the melodic lines of Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor (Op.posth) and Schubert’s Serenade from Schwanengesang (as transcribed by Liszt), the latter with its distant echoes, which sang with clarity.

However Grineva’s tendency to over-pedal and race ahead smudged many a detail besides attempting to conceal technical inadequacies. These showed up in mostly virtuosic fare like Liszt’s Les jeux d'eau a'la Villa d’Este, Chopin’s Waltz in E minor (Op.posth), Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance and the Schumann-Liszt Widmung. Her reliance of rubato, laid on with a shovel rather than with lapidary finesse, over-sentimentalised the Chopin set. The famous Nocturne in E flat major (Op.9 No.2) and Waltz in C sharp minor(Op.64 No.2) just had too much of a good thing.

In the more rhythmic works, a firmer foothold was established. Her view on works by Spaniard Granados and Argentine Piazzolla reflected tragic and dramatic qualities well. Closing with Roger Branga’s transcription of Ravel’s Bolero, the steady build up to a terminal crescendo was also memorable.

The two-hour-long programme, built on multiple morsels of a digestible quality, was greeted by an enthusiastic audience. Grineva’s championing of the obscure Viennese Jewish composer Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944), silenced by the Nazi holocaust, was particularly laudable. His romantic Legende and the Rondo from the First Sonata, emulating Chopinesque lyricism and turbulence, were given impressive Singapore premieres.

The best performance fell to the Swiss-American Ernest Bloch’s Poems Of The Sea, where tempest-tossed and impressionistic visions were driven with evocative insight and a slew of colours. This performance, another Singapore first, was the most deserving of a standing ovation.

This concert was presented by D'Alejo, in memory of Deidre Alejo.

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