Katya Apekisheva Piano Review

A large and enthusiastic audience were delighted by the programme of piano music given by Katya Apekisheva in the Theatre by the Lake for Keswick Music Society last Sunday evening.

A varied programme of contrasting works enabled Katya to exhibit her considerable technical keyboard skills as well as to display a wide range of dynamics and styles of piano writing.

Mozart’s relatively early sonata in F, K 280, was one of the first written for the fortepiano, with its much greater dynamic range than the harpsichord and its richer sonority in the bass register. Katya brought out the contrasts in Mozart’s music, ranging from the majestic to the sorrowful, in the forceful climaxes compared with her very delicate playing of the quietest sections.

Janacek’s two-movement Sonata, dating from 1905, followed. The composer destroyed the original manuscript, however, a copy was kept by a local Czeck pianist and published in 1924. The first movement is ominously labelled Presentiment and the second, Death, both of which require plenty of very intense piano-playing, although it ends very quietly, at the foot of the grave of a young man killed in a riot.
The first half ended on a lighter note, with three of Grieg’s piano pieces, namely The Brook, The Lonely Wanderer and Carnival Scene, played with great accuracy and delicacy.

The second half opened with the six ‘Moments musicaux’, D 780, by Schubert, written towards the end of his short life, based on dances and songs of the time. They have been described as creating a ‘warm, bucolic atmosphere’, evoking everyday life in Vienna in the 1820s. Katya brought out the contrasts between the major and minor key pieces splendidly.

Two Etudes Tableaux (study pictures) by Rachmaninoff followed and these formed a complete contrast to the other works in the programme. These were the last pieces which the composer wrote before emigrating from Russia to America. As one critic has pointed out, “these are beautifully crafted aural paintings, full of rich colours and evanescent harmonies” in which Katya’s interpretations brought out Rachmaninoff’s rich and varied harmonies and mastery of tone colours of the piano, to great effect.

As an encore, Katya played Scarlatti’s single-movement and baroquely cheerful Sonata in G minor.

Review by Mike Town