The programme organisers of the Milverton Concert Society have a deserved reputation for picking winners, often from among the rising generation of British musicians; and the concert on 22 March at Milverton Parish Church showed that they have not lost their touch. Pianist Ivana Gavric, nominated Newcomer of the Year 2011 by BBC Music Magazine following her Wigmore Hall debut, delighted an enthusiastic audience with a well-chosen programme which revealed the qualities both of the artist and of the piano recently acquired by the Society.
Two of the challenges facing any pianist are, first, to make a percussive instrument sustain an extended melody, and second, to conjure a variety of tone colours, from velvety smoothness to sparkling brilliance. In both, Ms Gavric excelled. She began her recital with Maurice Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales – a kaleidoscopic, and enigmatic, series of moods and images conveyed in Ravel’s uniquely subtle and piquant harmonic language, and interpreted on this occasion with great delicacy.
Then we heard Franz Schubert’s A minor Sonata, a sunny and youthful work full of characteristic sudden key changes and unexpected melodic gestures. In the affecting slow movement, effectively a song without words, Ms Gavric really made the piano sing.
Her gift for projecting extended melody was demonstrated even more clearly in Three Petrarch Sonnets by Franz Liszt – transcriptions by the composer of his own songs. Here the rhapsodic, originally vocal, lines on the theme of unrequited love tend to predominate, although the fiery virtuosic outbursts so typical of Liszt were also delivered with seemingly effortless confidence.
The evening concluded with three Lyric Pieces, and an early Sonata, by Edvard Grieg. Ms Gavric explained that after a year concentrating on the music of Janacek, she is now focussing on the Norwegian composer: and she proved an eloquent advocate of this sometimes unfairly neglected music. Technically demanding, alternately tempestuous and appealing, it was given an assured and convincing performance – at least one member of the audience will wish to explore further!
Ms Gavric is already a mature artist and a natural performer; her engaging and informative introductions to each piece lent welcome informality to the concert. Hers is a name to watch!
Review by Andrew Carter