LA Times reviews Rana: “Commanding, innate musicality”

LA Times reviews Rana: “Commanding, innate musicality”

Beatrice Rana as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Vasily Petrenko at the Hollywood Bowl on August 1, 2017
(Photo credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Review: A Little Russian diplomacy saves the day at the Hollywood Bowl
By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times
August 2, 2017

However unlikely to budge the Doomsday Clock a nanosecond away from the present 2½ minutes-to-midnight brink-of-nuclear-war mark, an instance of international cooperation at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday night meant that Russian relations don’t have to evoke only mistrust, sanctions and reprisals.

On short notice, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla canceled her eagerly awaited last appearance as associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic because of illness. Her replacement was the Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko, who was scheduled to conduct on Thursday and who graciously retained the original Tuesday program.

On Tuesday Petrenko found himself facing a sizable Bowl audience that had hoped to see today’s most-talked-about female conductor lead a program of audience favorites on a balmy night. Indeed, the main work, Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, is likely the most played concerto throughout the Bowl’s 95-year history.

Last year, the L.A. Phil opened its Bowl season with Lang Lang playing Tchaikovsky’s score as though fascinatingly flashy putty in his hands (and Gustavo Dudamel giving him license to do so). This time the soloist was Beatrice Rana, a 24-year-old Italian pianist who asks for no license whatsoever. She already has a substantial recording career, and her impressive and beautiful new release of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations has gotten a lot of attention for its seriousness and depth.

She is intently serious in the Tchaikovsky, as well, dutifully so were it not for her innate musicality. Her tone is commanding. She strives to make each phrase sound important, whether it is or not. She eschews playfulness and grandiosity. Her only showiness is in showing how the music works, its inner lines and structure. She is not a romantic and places herself at the opposite end of the expressive spectrum of such other young star pianists as Yuja Wang and Khatia Buniatishvili.

Petrenko returns Thursday with his own program of Strauss, Hummel and Brahms.

For complete review, click here.