“The Romantics! Who knew?”
Katya Grineva has developed an international following playing music I’ve mostly been ignoring. Turns out the mistake was all mine.by William Stranger
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Romantic movement in classical music, so it took an internal negotiation for me to up and hie it over to an evening concert by the Dutch piano sensation Katya Grineva. Titled “Love and Water,” it unpromisingly promised an “Enchanting evening of romantic piano”. Here’s my short report: About five notes into the concert I still didn’t know if I was going to completely reassess Romantic piano, but I was absolutely sure that I was in the hands of one of its consummate interpreters. At the end of her second song the reassessment had forced itself upon me. I conceded on the spot that I had spent a lifetime missing out on a vital sector of human creative genius. The Romantics! Who knew?
Grineva performed from a well of feeling that was as nuanced as it was powerful, giving stunningly beautiful dynamic shape to songs, such as Debussy’s “Clair du lune,” that had long ago been shorn of surprise by the debilitating injustice of familiarity. But what she provided was more than surprise. It was musical revelation, an initiation into expressive riches that I would never have supposed they bore. There is something in Grineva’s playing—her pauses, her note shaping, her sound dynamics, her phrasing, her almost unique sensitivity to the intentions of the several composers who fill her repertoire—that made me certain that each one of them would have gladly stood over her piano nodding enraptured approval.
When Grineva concluded the evening with a performance of Erik Satie’s brief, beloved, but undeniably overexposed “Gymnopedie #1” that nonetheless left me certain it too could never be done better, I realized I had been granted a rare, exquisite lesson in listening. For the first time and for sure, I knew the Romantics drew from depths that are uncontaminated by the sentimentality of which they are all-too-often accused. At their best, they recombine our very human soul with the Eternal Water that is its sustenance and renewal. This is the necessary alchemy of all art. How lovely that Katya Grineva is one of those relatively few master artists who knows how to get that particular “job” done.
Katya, who performs annually at New York’s Carnegie Hall, will be offering a rare San Francisco performance this Sunday evening at the Davies Symphony Hall. Yes, it’s Sunday and with a hard week ahead you need more time for deep refreshment. That’s precisely why you should go hear her perform. Take your kids too. This might just make them want to become pianists.
Here are the details:
“Love and Water”
Enchanting Evening of Romantic Piano: Works by Schubert, Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Liszt.
Sunday August 28, 2011
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Davies Symphony Hall
201 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94102
10% discount with code: KATYA247
Buy tickets online Tickets or call (415)392 4400
About Katya Grineva:
When teenage Russian pianist Katya Grineva came to New York in 1989, she had two goals: to study in America, and one day, to play in Carnegie Hall. She made her Carnegie Hall debut on May 13, 1998 and has performed there every year since. May 22, 2011 will mark her twelfth solo appearance at this world famous hall.
Having lived most of her adult life in New York, she has acquired a reputation as a pianist of exceptional romantic and poetic expression. Commentators agree that her subtle performances are deeply impactful and demonstrate her value of the beauty of tone.
The New York Times describes her as “liquid…dreamlike.” WNYC Radio states “she’s a noted exponent of the Romantic repertoire…”
Her interpretation and mastery of the piano can be summed up by one of her fans: “With Katya you sink into the sweet abyss of the music.”
Since April 1998 Steinway and Sons has awarded Katya the honorable title of Steinway Artist.
In 2005 Katya performed Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 as a guest artist with the Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra under Conductor David Harutyunyan, in Ecuador and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.
Her other awards include a special award from the New York State Shields in 2005, an award for special achievements from the government of Guam, and in 2006 received the Guzi peace Prize from the President of the Philippines.
In 2006 she was chosen to perform and record the world premieres of piano sonatas by romantic Viennese composer Marcel Tyberg, with the support of The Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies, which established the Tyberg Musical Legacy Fund.
She continued her worldwide travels returning to the Philippines for a benefit concert attended by the former President Fidel Ramos.
For Katya 2010 marked a significant year with the completion of her most recent world tour. Noteworthy performances took place in top concert halls in Quito, Ecuador; Nairobi, Kenya; Singapore; Hong Kong, China; Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; and Ravello, Italy. H performance in Singapore was captured on her newly released DVD, Katya Grineva… Live in Singapore.
Katya recently returned from Fiji where she recorded her new CD, “Liquid Dream” of piano works inspired by water. The CD will be available the night of the concert.
For more information visit: Katy Grineva’s website
Roberta on the Arts Review Arts Review of her recent Carnegie Hall performance