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Radiant Lyricism

Victoria Grigorieva and Ekaterina Lebedeva
play Beethoven and Ravel,
reviewed by MALCOLM MILLER


The radiant lyricism of Beethoven's Spring Sonata and the sunlit glow of Ravel's Violin Sonata performed with energy and drive were reason enough to enjoy the well attended lunchtime recital by violinist Victoria Grigorieva with pianist Ekaterina Lebedeva at London's Foundling Museum on Thursday 3 July 2008, the fourth concert in the Beethoven and Youth series presented by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. The series, launched last March with a concert on the first Thursday of each month, features music by composers from their youth, or about childhood, as well as performed by young artists, aimed to complement the ideals of the original Foundling Hospital which Thomas Coram founded with the support of Handel in the early 18th century. Past concerts in this acclaimed series have featured the distinguished soprano Elisabeth Connell in early songs by Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner, the teenage Julian Clef, winner of the Junior Beethoven Piano Competition, and young performers from the Royal College of Music Junior Department.

Appropriately the Grigorieva-Lebedeva duo was recently formed as a result of their work within the Junior Department of the RCM, while individually each has pursued impressive solo careers in Eastern and Western Europe, including Ukraine, and in Britain.

Victoria Grigorieva
Victoria Grigorieva

The elegant surroundings of the long Picture Gallery formed the backdrop for a forthright and well projected interpretation of Beethoven's Spring Sonata Op 24 that began with a dramatic and propulsive first movement. Both artists gave an involving account, balancing sweeping lyricism and intrepid drive, and if there was room for additional space for phrases to breath, their dynamic rhythmic emphasis was always arresting. Details of articulation emerged with vitality and a great array of shading, especially the conversational interplay amongst the two instruments.

Ekaterina Lebedeva
Ekaterina Lebedeva

It was in the slow movement that Grigorieva's warm, rich tone spun its extended melody with eloquence, while Lebedeva's handling of subdued veiled sonorities adding to the mood of tranquillity and intimacy. The Scherzo sparkled with playful ebullience, the jaunty tag-like dialogue effectively coordinated, with an especially delicate and racy Trio. The finale glowed with bonhomie, with apt urgency in the minor mode interludes that intersperse the genial rondo theme: above all it was their bold tempi in the outer movements which gave the performance plenty of energy and zest.

In the Violin Sonata by Ravel the duo warmed into the style well. In particular the jazzy Blues movement was finely coloured, with a exciting final movement. The enthusiastic reception was rewarded by a delightful encore, Rachmaninov's Vocalise, allowing full voice to Grigorieva's fulsome tonal richness.

Copyright © 12 July 2008 Malcolm Miller, London UK


The second season of BPSE Foundling Museum concerts continues in September 2008 with a focus on the early works of Beethoven:

4 September - Miriam Brickman, piano: Beethoven and Ronald Senator
2 October - The Greenwich Piano Trio: Early Beethoven Chamber Music plus
6 November - Alberto Portugheis, piano: Beethoven's Youthful Piano Sonatas and Sonatinas
4 December - Malcolm Miller and friends: Beethoven's Bonn works for piano and ensemble

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