Dublin-based pianist Svetlana Rudenko graced the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall with an eclectic programme of music on Friday. From the familiar to the not-so-familiar, the recital featured a selection of pieces that livened up a rainy Friday lunchtime.
First up is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, or the Sonata Pathetique, a work of dramatic contrasts – from the moment the first chord rings out, Rudenko brings a powerful approach to the work. Following the fire of the first movement, the second is a gentler, more lyrical affair – its famous melody brought out clearly by Rudenko’s playing. The final Rondo movement brings together what has come before – tender and tense, Rudenko offers real depth to Beethoven’s writing.
Alexander Scriabin’s Op. 74, five brief preludes, were the composer’s last works – short meditations on death and transformation, shades of light and dark, they mark a distinct contrast to the Beethoven. Rudenko shows a real sensitivity to the music, allowing the sense of space in each to come through. The second of the five in particular stands out among these finely crafted, and touchingly played, miniatures, with haunting, searching piano tones painting a quietly evocative picture. These preludes, though slight in length, have an emotional heft that leaves the room silently attentive – the captivating nature of Scriabin’s music becoming ever more apparent as each unfolds.
The final selection of the afternoon would seem at first to be an unlikely match for what has come before. Franz Liszt’s Mephisto Walzer is a dramatic and explosive piece – Rudenko rising to the challenge of Liszt’s dazzling work, its virtuosic opening giving way to more tender moments. It’s a lively and engaging performance – after the Scriabin Preludes, it is almost light-hearted. With Rudenko drawing a big sound from her piano, the drama of the work fills the space left by the effects of the last Scriabin work.
Successfully drawing together such apparently disparate works in one programme is no easy task, but Svetlana Rudenko’s performance made the collection seem natural. Engaging, exciting and sensitive towards the music being performed, Rudenko puts a bit of sunshine back into a wet Friday afternoon.
Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13
Alexander Scriabin – Preludes, Op. 74
Franz Liszt – Mephisto Walzer