Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yulianna Avdeeva : Recital from the 66th International Chopin Festival

Here she is again, in great sound and in great form! Not pretty, this playing, at least not in the conventional sense. The nocturnes take place in a sort of darkness that is low on moonbeams, and the opening sonorities of the hungarian rhapsody are arrestingly bleak. In fact, as a person who cannot stand the idiot antics of Liszt's piano writing, I have to confess to being fascinated by this selection of his darker works. 

Having heard Ingolf Wunder (joint second with Lukas Geniusas) and the noteworthy Hélène Tysman who didn't make the prizes, I still think Avdeeva comes out on top. Wunder has superb tone and musicianship, but Avdeeva manages to come up with a personal chemistry that is fascinating because it doesn't seem to impose itself on the music but to come up with things you don't normally hear. 


Yulianna Avdeeva : Recital from the 66th International Chopin Festival, Duszniki
Zdrój, 2011.

2 Nocturnes for piano (Op.62)
Scherzo for piano no. 1 (Op.20) in B minor
4 Mazurkas for piano (Op.33)
Yulianna Adeeva (piano)
Polonaise-fantasy for piano (Op.61) in A flat major

La Lugubre gondola for piano (S.200)
Nuages gris for piano (S.199)
Bagatelle without tonality for piano (S.216a)
No.17 from 19 Hungarian rhapsodies for piano (S.244)

Wagner (Transc. Liszt)
Tannhauser - Overture

Meditation (Op. 72 no. 5)

Waltz for piano (Op.42) in A flat major
Mazurka (Op.67 no.4) in A minor

Excellent sound, and a very good piano.

BBC Radio 3 HD internet stream, tracked, tagged, normalised

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  1. >> Excellent sound, and a very good piano.<<

    How does one tell a very good piano from a very good pianist who gets out of the instrument more than most?
    I am being dead serious, by the way. Recently I have been listening to Andsnes Carnegie Hall recital and I could swear that the (unobtrusively) beautiful tone is due to the instrument and not to this pianist. In dozens of his studio recordings his tone never even began to approach what I hear in this live broadcast... (And didn't Richter play all kinds of shitty instruments and managed to make them sound better than most folks would get from a fine-tuned Hamburg Steinway?)

  2. Of course you're being serious, and I wish I could explain to you the instantaneous sense of "I want to play that piano" that I get from hearing a really good instrument, or a really interesting instrument. The resonance of a single note, for example, can make my fingers itch! I have a recording of Tipo playing an instrument whose mid-range sings like a bell, that I ache to be able to play. Thinking about it, it's got to do with resonances and how sound can build up – sometimes a bass note actually seems to swell as the instrument resonates.

    Richter played some instruments that were poor, and listening to his famous account of Rachmaninoff's second concerto and a group of the preludes I am fascinated to hear how he handles the second rate piano, with an uncanny sense of what it still can do. But listening to Nebolsin doing the preludes today, it made me wonder how much of Richter's interpretation was a compromise between what he wanted and what the piano could do.

    Sure - you can hear what a good musician is trying to do, even when the instrument cannot rise to the occasion. I actually find myself moved by some of Ponti's concertos, recorded on clapped-out pianos with third rate orchestras. He will not, will not give up. Time and time again he digs into the instrument for tone it no longer has, if it ever did, and again and again he seems to inspire mediocre orchestras with a vision of the music that comes across through all the failures.

    And this, I think is the real crux of the matter: even when the instrument fails you, you can communicate a vision of what you intended, and somehow the audience hears this vision and not the mediocre instrument.

    I played a former concert grand of Richter's. It was well beyond any further concerts, but it still was a magnificent instrument – a Yamaha, incidentally. An action requiring utter commitment and a lot of weight, but a magical sound. You could still hear what this piano once was capable of.

    Of so I believe.

  3. >> I actually find myself moved by some of Ponti's concertos <<

    That makes two of us!

  4. There's a lovely story of Ponti and the recording crew arriving in some drab town to record with the local band. The band weren't really up to the concerto, and seemed demotivated and weary.

    Ponti played along with the band in rehearsal, improvising, singing, and by his sheer infectious enthusiasm turned the recording session around. The recording engineer unfortunately didn't catch any of this on tape. What a shame! I'd love to have heard it.

  5. My granddaughter is just beginning to study piano, and I can think of no more inspiring a performance to send her. Many, many thanks for this recital.

    1. She is starting on a path that can offer her an avenue for self-discovery for the rest of her life! I wish her well.

  6. Ronan, I think you'd like this article on the virtues of daily piano playing:

    Of course the bass-players etc are not happy and say so in the comments there.

    1. What a wonderful article! I love his Rachmaninoff story – 'In his last days, Rachmaninoff continually practiced a composition he never performed. One of his last statements was: “Farewell, my dear hands.”'

  7. Truly, a gifted and beautiful woman, is Ms. Avdeeva, who brings grace and peace into the hearts of all those who hear her play.