It's always gratifying to hear a pianist who has moved well beyond the hone-the-technique phase and can concentrate entitrely on making music, peering into the world of possibilities behind the notes on a page. I felt I was hearing such a pianist on Sunday afternoon when Marianna Prjevalskaya played a demanding recital for Music in the Great Hall.
Currently working on her doctorate at the Peabody Institute, Prjevalskaya has already accomplished plenty, including a great many competition honors -- winning the World Piano Competition in Cincinnati earned her a debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall earlier this year.
Yes, we all know that competition victories are no guarantee of great talent. But Sunday's recital made it easy to hear why this pianist, barely into her 30s, has done so well in that arena, and why she also has a Naxos recording to her credit and a sizable list of concert gigs.
Prjevalskaya chose a meaty program, launched by Beethoven's Op. 27, No. 1, which unfolded with plenty of drama and spontaneity. Lyrical warmth, too, which gave the Adagio a genuinely songful touch.
That singing quality also emerged tellingly in the A major Sonata (D. 959) by Schubert; the second and fourth movements, in particular, inspired playing of considerable sensitivity from the pianist. The bittersweetness she conveyed in the Andantino cast quite a spell.
As for technical bravura, that was offered in abundance during the finale's coda, taken at lightning speed, yet always remained clear. I would have welcomed more elfin articulation in the Scherzo, but that was a minor matter in light of so much inspired work.
In between the sonatas, Prjevalskaya delivered a vivid account of Rachmaninoff's daunting Variations on a Theme by Corelli. She was keenly, equally focused on the intellectual aspects of the score -- all those eventful melodic and harmonic journeys Rachmaninoff takes -- and its emotional core.
I was relieved to detect a wayward note along the way -- I never entirely trust a perfect player -- and was consistently impressed by the beauty of expression Prjevalskaya maintained. She proved especially compelling in the sober ending of the piece, making every note speak eloquently.