November 10 2019
Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
A recital of poetic insight and technical finesse from the Leeds Piano Competition winner
Even if you didn’t have a programme to read that Anna Tsybuleva had won the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, the first notes she played in her Sunday morning recital would have left you in no doubt that here was something special.
She started with one of the most respected figures in the history of keyboard music, honoured by many of the great composers who followed: Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, the second surviving son of J.S. Bach and his first wife. He was a master of keyboard technique as well as one of classical music’s most original thinkers. A modern Steinway is a rather different beast from the sort of keyboard CPE would have known, but Anna put its subtleties of touch and range of tonal colours to the service of the Piano Sonata in A, a work that dazzles from the outset, as well as being unpredictable and typically quirky. She showed that she was totally at one with a musical style which encompasses interrupted rhythms, unexpected pauses and rapid changes in dynamics.
The rest of the programme was of music by two of Carl Philip Emanuel’s admirers. Anna introduced Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata by saying that, in preparation, she had read the Shakespeare play which is said to have inspired it and she was certainly an eloquent advocate for the Destiny/Love/Forgiveness sequence which unfolded in its three movements. Her poetic insights were as impressive as her technical finesse.
Finally came Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. Her approach struck to the heart of the work with playing of poise and strength, full of dramatic contrasts and carefully moulded phrases, delicate and poetic when needed but also exhilaratingly virtuosic, as in the Finale. Overall this was playing that typified the whole recital: the perfect balance between visceral excitement and classical restraint.
Anna Tysbuleva in a Nottingham Classics Sunday Piano Series recital