Three promising pianists, Welmoed Poelstra, Kees Kruit, and Florian Verweij, received a masterclass on Sunday morning from Steinway Artist Marietta Petkova.
Petkova, an often-requested guest at the Friesian concert venues, gave a solo recital later that day. Her program included Claude Debussy’s 12 Préludes from Book 1.
- An Impressionist repertoire?
Debussy would say not; that there was no relationship between his oeuvre and the Impressionist style of painting with, as he put it, all its vagueness.
At any rate, Petkova knew what she needed to do. As quick as lightning she shifted from mood to mood, without jarring contrasts. The Préludes are related, but separate, and Petkova’s even-tempered playing created connections between these short pieces.
She let each Prélude breathe, allowing the pauses to linger, and playing daringly with the tension and dreaminess in the music. Her sparkling articulation made the notes seem at times like splashing raindrops, or ice crystals.
This was no mere reproduction of the written score, but an intimate duet or private chat between the composer and pianist, the latter occasionally closing her eyes, breaking into a smile, or fixing her gaze: Petkova was intensely concentrated, a sculptor in sound, before a captivated audience transported to another world.
And then there were the ballades by Frederic Chopin, all four. Here again her vison triumphed. She presented the first like a story that gained momentum, and then transitioned to a naturally flowing entity. Petkova respects the boundaries of Chopin’s score, but at some point she must have thought, ‘Maybe he intended it this way’. With this notion, one throws any clichés overboard. Her construction of these ballades carries the listeners along with her. She does this not by grand effects, but by searching within herself, in an intimate dialogue and with natural timing.