‘It’s important to challenge young musicians and give them the opportunity to grow alongside great artists,’ says Beatrice Rana. (Photo credit: Marie Staggat)
Q&A: Facing the music: Beatrice Rana
The young pianist and medallist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on Bach, Brahms and Ligeti, and letting her hair down to Queen
March 6, 2017
Q: What was the first record you bought?
A: Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. I actually didn’t buy it, but it’s the first recording I remember listening to, when I was eight years old, and it was pretty shocking and revelatory.
Q: … and the last one?
A: Brahms’ First Piano Concerto. I was intimidated by Brahms for many years, but now I feel much closer to his music, and plan to play it next season.
Q: How do you mostly listen to music?
A: Either live music in concert halls or on CDs. When I am traveling, I usually have my iPad with me and put the headphones on. And at home I still listen to some of our old records on vinyl.
Q: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
A: To spend hours playing just for fun (instead of practicing).
Q: If you had time to learn a new instrument, what would you choose?
A: Being the daughter of two pianists, I never considered the idea of playing anything else. But when my younger sister Ludovica asked to study the cello I got extremely jealous when I realised it was such a beautiful and expressive instrument.
Q: What’s been your most memorable live music experience as an audience member?
A: Most recently, Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with Krystian Zimerman, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker. I have never heard such a unity of sound and musical intentions. I was recently at the Royal Opera House for La Traviata and that was a memorable experience as well.
Q: We’re giving you a time machine: what period, or moment in musical history, would you travel to and why?
A: It has to be Leipzig in the early 1830s. Having been a passionate reader of the diaries written by Schumann, I would have loved to have taken part in the soirées musicales that people such as he, his wife Clara, Mendelssohn, Liszt and so many other great artists were taking part in.
Q: Do you enjoy musicals? Do you have a favourite?
A: Yes! I don’t have a particular favourite, but Grease is definitely up there.
Q: Which conductor or performer of yester-year do you most wish you could have worked with?
A: The very missed Claudio Abbado and Leonard Bernstein.
Q: What is the best new piece written in the past 50 years?
A: I am a huge fan of Ligeti’s Etudes because of their impact on both an intellectual and emotional level.
Q: What’s the most overrated classical work? (ie. is there a warhorse whose appeal you really don’t relate to?)
A: Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise. It’s a fantastic piece of course, but I’ve never understood why it’s so popular among audience and pianists.
Q: Imagine you’re a festival director here in London with unlimited resources. What would you programme – or commission – for your opening event?
A: I would commission one of the best young composers around to write a new piece that would be played by a group of our greatest musicians working alongside younger promising ones. I strongly believe it’s very important to challenge young musicians and give them the opportunity to grow alongside great artists.
Q: What do you sing in the shower?
A: Nothing. I consider the shower a rare holy moment of rest and peace – especially for my ears!
Q: It’s late, you’ve had a few beers, you’re in a Karaoke bar. What do you choose to sing?
A: Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. It’s an uplifting, crazy loud epic song so I can let my hair down and justify my bad singing!
Beatrice Rana’s recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is out now on Warner Classics available from Presto Classical and Apple Music. She performs at Birmingham Town Hall on 9 May.
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