Beatrice Rana returns to her ‘first love’ — Bach — with the Goldberg Variations. The Italian pianist will release her first Warner Classics solo album this month.
“I like challenges,” says the 23-year-old Italian pianist Beatrice Rana. Specifically, she enjoys studying and performing music that allows her to embark on a process of deep exploration. The scores for her first Warner Classics recording, released in late 2015, were two formidable and spectacular Russian piano concertos — Tchaikovsky No. 1 and Prokofiev No 2. Her performances with Sir Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia led Gramophone to describe her as “a fully developed artist of a stature that belies her tender years”. For her new Warner Classics release she has taken on a very different challenge in the form of quieter, less obviously virtuosic masterpiece from an earlier era. It also happens to stand as a pinnacle of the solo keyboard repertoire: Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Bach was the composer who most obsessed Beatrice Rana as a child, and in a recent interview with Pianist Magazine, she confessed that it would be his music, and above all the Goldberg Variations, that she would choose if she had to devote her life to a single composer. “I’m very happy to be going back to Bach,” she enthuses. “It’s best to avoid Bach in competitions … you can’t expose yourself to be totally killed by the jury! But Bach is my first love; now I am allowed to play it in public and I’m really looking forward to that.”
When it comes to competitions, she speaks from experience. She first came to international attention in 2011, when she won First Prize and all the special jury prizes at the Montreal International Competition. Two years later she won the Silver Medal and the Audience Award at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Her exceptional achievement and promise has also been recognized by BBC Radio 3, which has named her one of its New Generation Artists, and by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, which has awarded her a fellowship.
Over the 2016/2017 season, Beatrice Rana is playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations at such venues as Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and in Aix-en-Provence, Rome, Ferrara, Vicenza, Pisa and San Francisco.
Le Monde observed that “Beatrice Rana certainly has nothing left to prove when it comes to technique, but what makes an impression is her calm maturity and her sense of architecture.” When she played the Goldberg Variations at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in October 2016, the Bachtrack online journal — which gave her performance a five-star rating — highlighted her capacity for turning her dazzling technique to interpretative ends and praised the way the apparently instinctive fluidity and energy of her playing was combined with articulacy and an elegant sense of discretion.
Beatrice Rana’s Bach: The Goldberg Variations is out on Warner Classics on February 24, 2017. Click here to order.