When I heard Ivana Gavrić perform at Wigmore Hall in November 2013, I made the easiest decision there and then; I must invite her to perform to our audience at Breinton. She blew me away with incredibly clear and transparent sounds that I had never experienced.
And what immense pleasure she gave us last night. There was so much more to enjoy than superb musicality and wonderful pianistic skills that she had. Ivana communicated through the music and involved the audience by conveying deep and inner feeling.
The first half of the programme was dedicated to works by Grieg. This brought a Norwegian air and feel, poetic and scenic beauty. Ballade, in the form of variations, was a real gem. Based on a haunting Norwegian theme, every variation was expressive and one after another we looked forward to what would evolve until it completed its journey with a flashback to the first theme. Through her great attention to contrast and style, we heard such subtleness and sensitivity together with stamina and power.
Her programming to sandwich this large scale work between short pieces from Slatter and three Lyric pieces was very effective. Her interpretation and articulation was completely her own and enthusiastically received by the audience. Totally immersed with in the music, Ivana appeared to treasure every moment and every note. Needless to say we loved Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, one of the best known Grieg’s piano works.
The second half consisted of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor and selections from Rachmaninov’s preludes. Ivana explained that Schubert’s Sonata, D. 784 Opus 143, reminded her of Mussorgsky, therefore she liked to combine it with works by a Russian composer. The Sonata’s first movement opened with a rather intense and depressing mood but soon was followed by the most expressive and dreamy second subject; the moods alternate throughout the movement. So involving, so beautiful, and again throughout the beautiful passages such contrast was evident.
Ivana showed real power and excitement with Rachmaninov’s Preludes Op. 23 No. 5 and No. 2, the power which was based on warmth, and never meant to be nor sounded ‘showy’. The beautiful lyrical second movement of the Grieg Sonata was played as encore, and that concluded a fascinating concert. It was wonderful to see many members stay on to chat with this wonderful pianist; they could not go home without showing appreciation for such a joyous evening.