Chopin – 26 Préludes
Scriabin – Sonate n. 2 op. 19
ATMA Classic, 2012
The present album is the debut recording of Italian pianist Beatrice Rana, released shortly after she won the first prize at the Concours Musical International de Montréal in 2011. She was only eighteen then and was therefore one of the youngest winners of the competition. And yet, she was already considered not only a virtuosa of her instrument, but a complete “artist” too. From that moment on, her international career was launched and she presently performs with the most prestigious orchestras of the world.
In this recording, the young but talented pianist performs twenty-six Préludes by Chopin (the 24 Préludes op. 28 with the addition of the Prélude in A flat major, Op. Posth., and of the Prélude in C sharp minor, op. 45) and Scriabin’s Sonata no. 2 in G sharp minor, op. 19. The combination of the two composers is due to the admiration Scriabin had for Chopin’s music during his youth, even though the influence of the Polish composer on his younger colleague is not examined in the same extensive way of a more recent recording by Daniil Trifonov, Chopin Evocations.
Youth does not always mean lack of experience. As for Elisabeth Brauss, another young pianist who made her debut album few years after this, Beatrice Rana proves with her first recording that she already has all the qualities to become a really great pianist. Her technical skill and profound sensitivity are so striking that they reveal a natural talent. She finds instinctively the right colours and nuances and her playing is characterized by expressiveness and technical skill. Rana reveals also a vivacious temperament and inexhaustible stamina.
Chopin’s 26 Préludes
Chopin’s Préludes are the most conspicuous part of the present recording. Rana characterizes them with a liquid sound, alternating lightness with a heavy spirit. Her performance is quick but not hurried and this approach makes the Préludes energetic and vibrant. Her élan reflects her young age in the best possible meaning of the term.
The liquid sound is an almost constant feature of the Préludes. It is the first thing you notice in the Prélude no. 1, not to speak of the Prélude no. 10, where the fluency she elicits from the piano allows her to make this short piece sparkle. The same happens in the Prélude no. 11, but it differs from the previous one (which is much more virtuosic) for its more gentle feeling.
Quickness gives prominence in a particular way to “nocturnal” atmospheres as that of Préludes no. 2 and 4, to the animated, shining Prèludes no. 3, 12 and 16, but also to the romantic spirit of a Prélude like no. 7.
As for the dramatic spirit, this is prominent in Prélude as no. 8, thanks to the subtle use of dynamics; in no. 9, where the same feeling is more restrained, and in no. 22, where it is stirring. This feeling reveals only half of Rana’s expressiveness and a considerable part of the Préludes allows her to display more thoughtful, quiet and even hopeful feelings (I think for example of the nos. 13, 15, 17 and 19).
After Chopin’s Préludes, the addition of Scriabin’s Sonata may seem superfluous and instead it ends the recording with another sample of Rana’s artistry.
The first movement (Andante) alternates energy and quietness. The tight rhythm that opens the piece is overwhelmed little by little by the silvery sound to which Rana accustomed us and that gives a romantic mood to the movement. In this rendition, the Andante is a dreamy and enchanting piece.
The second and last movement (Presto) is more varied. Technical brilliance blends here with extraordinary elegance and transport and the expression of intense feelings is lively and, in the end, riveting.
Beatrice Rana’s recording of Chopin’s Préludes and of Scriabin’s Sonata in G sharp minor is one of the most outstanding debut albums ever released. You will find here all the premises to hope that the young pianist will reveal herself an excellent virtuosa of her instrument – and her latest recordings confirm this impression.