January brought 'piano night' to Skipton for the piano recital event of this year's Skipton Music season. Following on from her win at the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, Anna Tsybuleva has received several concert invites including here in Skipton. After her performance in Hebden Bridge last spring, I was looking forward to this concert. Whereas the Hebden Bridge programme was more 'traditional' - Schubert, Beethoven, Liszt - the programme for the 24th January recital in Skipton was more varied (more of her own favourites, perhaps?): CPE Bach Fantasy in F sharp minor H.300; Schumann Symphonic Etudes Op. 13; Medtner Sonata in G minor Op. 22; a selection from da Játékok by György Kurtág; and four Preludes plus L'Isle Joyeuse of Debussy.
Anna's demeanour throughout was of unfussy, confident elegance. The Fantasy started out in contemplative mode (quite apt for a work night concert!?) with the expression following almost acting as a starter for Schumann. In the Symphonic Etudes, very well received by the audience, I enjoyed the theme and variations emotional journey - with plenty of dynamic
Perhaps the hardest piece to comprehend was the Medtner Sonata. Not a piece I am familiar with and here maybe the control slipped - whilst there were sections of the one-movement piece that were superb soundscapes, I struggled to grasp the whole. The Kurtág pieces were fantastic - especially Les Adieux and Doina - powerfully simple and unnerving; and the Debussy selection was a sure crowd pleaser to finish.
Throughout the concert, Anna's control was both extremely admirable, yet perhaps a tad limiting. The evening was more than enjoyable and plenty to think on - but having seen her perform twice, it seems that Anna is quite guarded in her interactions with her audience - plenty of smiles but no conversations outside of the piano. Maybe a little more looseness would assist in transmitting her musical message.
Having written this I realised I had completely missed writing about Alina Ibragimova's December recital! Sorry Alina! It was a really exuberant performance, Bach and Ysaÿe. The Bach first half really good The Ysaÿe Sonatas were sometimes quite dense - namely, Kreisler Sonata - but the Aurora movement from Sonata No. 5 (Op. 27 No 5) was awesome.