PENETRATING MUSICAL INSIGHT
Evgenia Rubinova plays Chopin
with the Orchestra of Opera North
in Huddersfield and Leeds,
heard by PATRIC STANDFORD
A young musician who understands a composer's intentions and successfully conveys that responsibility to an audience, communicating without resort to those intrusive self conscious physical demonstrations, is a delight indeed. So it is with Evgenia Rubinova, a pianist fully in command of the technical difficulties, but not one to let us know where they are, or even allow us any interest in them beyond insistently requiring us to focus exclusively on the music. Her performance of Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto was completely enthralling, from her first entry after that long orchestral anticipation, through the slow movement's delicacy, the two dramatic pauses with which she held our breath surrounded by astonishing gentleness, through to the light exhilaration of a finale that can sound a heavy and occasionally abrasively rough peasant dance under some hands.
I last heard her in Leeds almost two years ago in a solo recital that ranged from two sets of Brahms Intermezzi to pieces by Scriabin, Shostakovich and the fascinating Chorale and Variations by Henri Dutilleux -- a remarkable recital that demonstrated technical solidity and a high level of musical perception. Since that occasion, my admiration for this outstanding young artist -- a Silver Medal winner in the 2003 Leeds Piano Competition -- has increased tenfold.
More than only a pianist, she is an artist with penetrating musical insight and a self effacing calm that holds her listeners -- not so much in the palms of her own hands, powerful and beautiful though they are, but more so within the composer's spirit. She was born in Tashkent, encouraged by a musical family, and she has the power to hold her listeners spellbound -- and that is a valuable gift these days.
The Orchestra of Opera North played magnificently in this concert too, not only in a sympathetic accompaniment to the concerto, but proving itself a formidable ensemble in their performance of one among the most demanding symphonies in the 20th century repertoire -- Prokofiev's 5th. Under the exacting command of French conductor Frédérick Chaslin, they surmounted superbly every challenge of the rich and often dense score, its lugubrious and expansive slow movement enhanced by impressive tuba playing, and mechanical frenzy of the finale which, like Rubinova's performance, seemed to be accomplished, like the art of the conjurer, with enviable ease.
Copyright © 14 April 2008
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK
The performance reviewed took place on 5 April 2008 at Huddersfield Town Hall, UK. The concert was repeated on 12 April 2008 in Leeds Town Hall.