SUNDAY 28th APRIL 2013
ANOTHER WONDERFUL PIANO RECITAL AT MUSIC NAIRN
Music Nairn's audience was recently treated to a piano recital by 30 year old Latvian born pianist Arta Arnicane, and it was undoubtedly one of the best that Music Nairn has enjoyed. Why? In short, because Arta made the piano "sing"; there was a clear sense of shape to each piece regardless of the technical challenges; there was great clarity and articulation; her fff playing was never over-pedalled; and her heart as evidenced by her facial and musical expression was clearly deeply embedded in the music.
Arta started with Schumann. First, his 'Arabesque', which in the words of the renowned Vladimir Horowitz is a reminiscence, a musical watercolour, each of whose three repetitions of the theme has to be shaded differently. Arta followed this with 'Forest Scenes', a descriptive set of nine miniatures inspired by poetry. These are rarely played in public as a complete set because they are not perceived as technically difficult enough in today’s somewhat competitive world on the concert platform, but that is not to say they do not present difficulties of interpretation because of their relative simplicity. Arta explained that she had drawn inspiration for these pieces from the weather and scenery on her journey by car from Aboyne through Tomintoul.
Arta concluded the first half of her recital with 'Three Argentinian Dances' by Ginastera. In these pieces her technical virtuosity appeared to be effortless, and she delighted in the complex rhythms, the gratuitous dissonances, and the closing glissandos of the third dance
After the interval Arta turned to Brahms' 'Three Intermezzi' Op 117. The writer has to confess that these very sad lullabies are not his favourite Brahms, but in Arta's hands they took on a fresh dimension through the simplicity and clarity of her playing.
The published programme concluded with Ravel's 'Gaspard de la Nuit'. This set of pieces calls for a great range of tone colour, articulation and dynamics from both pianist and piano. The technical influence of Liszt is ever present, but for Ravel the Lisztian effects take on an entirely different appearance: this is 20th century piano writing, and as Arta explained, it might at first seem like the musical equivalent of impressionism, but it isn't. In the first piece her portrayal of Ondine the water nymph was exquisite – the shimmering and cascading effects were absolute perfection. The bells tolling for the corpse in the second piece were distinct. In the third piece, Scarbo the devilish dwarf took the piano to its limits, but Arta's command of the keyboard made it look effortless at every musical twist and turn until the dwarf finally expired. After prolonged applause Arta said she didn’t want people to have a sleepless night after the excitement of Scarbo, and she calmed the audience down with a gentle Latvian lullaby.
In summary, if there is one memory those fortunate to be present will surely carry for a long time, it is Arta's ability to "make the piano sing". This somewhat hackneyed phrase describes making the melody line float as if a separate vocal line above everything else that is happening. This facility can distinguish even the greatest pianists, one of the most revered exponents of the art being Shura Cherkassky. It was clear from the moment Arta first played the theme of the 'Arabesque' that there is something special about her playing, and nobody present was disappointed.