VIENNA, Va., October 31, 2013 – The Discovery Series continues at The Barns at Wolf Trap this Friday, November 1, at 8 p.m. with the local debut recital of young Italian pianist Beatrice Rana. She’s was the Silver Medalist in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held this past June in Ft. Worth, Texas. Her challenging program here will include works by Schumann and Prokofiev, including the latter’s formidable Sixth Sonata.
Ms. Rana has received an enormous amount of international attention since the most recent Van Cliburn competition, not only for her second prize in this difficult contest, but also for winning the hearts of the audience which was confirmed by her additional winning of the competition’s Audience Award.
The “Van Cliburn Competition was a life-changing experience,” she told Wolf Trap writer and editor Marisa Klein in a recent interview. “[P]erforming on such a great stage and with amazing musicians is what we young artists are aiming for,” she continued. “With the prize, I could increase the chances to do what I have always been wishing for, that is, playing concerts for different audiences in different countries.”
Don’t get the impression that Ms. Rana, just 20 years old, is an overnight sensation, however. She’s already participated in numerous auditions, contests and festivals around the world, and is becoming a familiar name in Europe and Canada, having copped first prize in that country’s Montreal International Musical Competition in 2011.
In addition, she’s already released her first recording, a 2012 ATMA Classique CD featuring works by those curiously, spiritually affiliated piano geniuses Chopin and Scriabin, with another release in the works for late this year.
Having benefited by being born into a family of musicians to begin with—her parents are both pianists—Ms. Rana likely startled even her parents by showing a clear affinity for the piano before she was able to walk. As a result, she began her formal musical training as a four-year old prodigy-in-the-making, later debuting as a concerto soloist when she was only nine. She’s been on a fast track ever since.
Ms. Rana attracted considerable attention at the Cliburn competition for what one writer called her “elegant and often understated” approach toward the typically frenzied, virtuostic music that tends to dominate such internationally followed competitions. At the same time, she always found plenty of time to interact with both the media and her many audience fans, demonstrating a social grace that is often lacking in first-tier artists and those younger performers who are headed in that direction.
Discussing her upcoming Wolf Trap appearance with Ms. Klein, Ms. Rana expressed her continuing enthusiasm for the rough-and-tumble piano music of Sergei Prokofiev as well as her affinity for the entirely different piano compositions of Robert Schumann.
“I love playing Prokofiev,” she told Ms. Klein, “because he takes a very unique approach to the piano and because there is an irony—most of the time a sad irony—which you rarely find in other composers.”
Irony abounds in Prokofiev’s Sixth Sonata, one of his three so-called “War Sonatas,” this one dating from 1940 and already thick with the martial tempos and extraordinary violence of that period, most obviously reflected in the vicious first movement and in the helter-skelter scampering of the finale.
The interior movements mark a greater attempt at lyricism, but even this is dampened by ironic dissonances that seem to sour any possibility of spiritual recovery.
But for all the gloom and doom, this is also a work that demands the highest level of virtuosity, and it will be interesting to see how Ms. Rana approaches it this Friday.
I will be performing Schumann as well,” Ms. Rana noted, looking back at the great Romantic-era piano repertoire. Her Schumann selections will be “focusing on the theme of variations with two great compositions: Abegg Variations and Symphonic Etudes in form of Variations.” *
The Variations, rather surprisingly, are marked as Opus 1 in the Schumann catalog. Surprisingly, because even in his first numbered composition, Schumann had already begun to demonstrate two signature elements of his approach and style: his affection for symbols, puzzles, and inside jokes; and the almost shocking, fiery virtuosity that tends to erupt even from his simplest motifs. Both characteristics are echoed in the later, more fully realized Symphonic Etudes.
Ms. Rana’s entire program promises an intriguing and vigorous evening geared to please—and to challenge—fans of classic virtuoso piano repertoire. An added bonus of each Discovery Series concert—all of which are recorded for later PBS broadcast—is the change audience members get after intermission to ask questions of the artist or artists to gain further insight into each performance.
As always, Discovery Series concerts are a best bet, particularly for Northern Virginia music lovers who want to encounter, up close and personal, an eclectic selection of the finest veteran classical artists and the most promising new ones without having to fight inside-the-Beltway traffic and outrageous parking fees to attend events in the District. And yes, parking at The Barns is plentiful and free.
* For Ms. Klein’s complete interview with Ms. Rana—and a complete video of her prize-winning performance with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra—follow this link.
Tickets, Info, and Getting There
Ms. Rana’s recital begins at 8 p.m., Friday, November 1, at The Barns of Wolf Trap. Northern Virginians already familiar with The Barns already know where it is. If you need directions, visit this page on Wolf Trap’s website.
For Wolf Trap information, call 703-255-1868.
For tickets—$35 for this performance—either call 1-877-WOLFTRAP or visit “wolftrap.org/ticketinfo”. To avoid the usual service charge, locals can also drop by The Barns Box Office to buy tickets between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. M-F; noon to 5 p.m. Sat-Sun-holidays; or until 9 p.m. on performance nights.
Those interested in a package of classical Discovery Series concerts can “pick four” and save $15 or purchase the entire eight-concert series and save a total of $40.
Some “standby” discounts for seniors, students and military are available at The Barns’ box office half an hour prior to the curtain time of each performance. No guarantees, but a good bet if you live nearby and need to stick to a budget. Visit “wolftrap.org/save” for details.
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