Nadia Giliova at Wigmore Hall

Glinka
Variations on a Russian Folk Song
Tchaikovsky
The Seasons, Op.37b
Howard Blake
Variations on a Theme of Bartók [world premiere]
Lifecycle, Op.489 [selection]
Schumann
Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op.26
Rachmaninov
Preludes, Op.23 – No.10 in G flat & No.2 in B flat

Nadia Giliova (piano)


Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker

Reviewed: 11 July, 2008
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Nadia GiliovaPrevious London appearances by the very gifted Russian-born pianist, Nadia Giliova, have demonstrated her affinity with, and ability to project, the music of her homeland to a significant degree.

This programme, which began with a short but very effective set of Variations by Glinka, amply reinforced such characteristics in her playing. This very rarely-heard piece was excellently played, a perfect introduction as it were to the much larger set of pieces which constitute Tchaikovsky’s rather oddly entitled The Seasons – surely the 12 individual items should be more properly, collectively, referred to as The Months? No matter: what was immediately evident was this player’s wide tonal range – her fortissimos were immensely powerful, and she was also capable of delivering the most beautifully graduated and softly delineated line – as well as her admirable sense of characterisation.

This interesting recital became more so in the second half, which began with Howard Blake’s Variations on a Theme of Bartók (the theme taken from Mikrokosmos), written 50 years ago but only now receiving its premiere public performance. This year sees Howard Blake’s 70th-birthday, so this work from his student years coincidentally gave us a glimpse of his initial compositional style. Suffice it to say that it is fully representative of the mature composer, and the rather brief Variations (the Theme itself is also short, as befits its source) make a splendidly attractive set, very well laid out for the piano, and extremely well played (from memory!) by this fine artist. One could well imagine this piece entering the repertoires of many pianists. It was a pity, however, that the composer, who was present, was not invited by Giliova to acknowledge enthusiastic applause.

Three items from Howard Blake’s large set of solo piano pieces, which make up his Lifecycle, followed, the central item, ‘Oberon’, creating an immediate impression. Giliova returned to give an impressive account of Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien – this was Schumann-playing of a high order – and this interesting recital ended with two beautifully played Rachmaninov Preludes from his Opus 23.

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