The Bulgarian pianist Vanya Pesheva has played the piano in public since childhood.Her brilliant technique allows her to tackle the most demanding composers such as Ravel or Scriabin. The comparison betweeen these two, from the early part of the 20th century, and the contemporary Albena Petrovic, who considers the older pair a source of inspiration, is the genial idea behind this CD release.
Is in fact the subtle differences in the musical language of the three composers which Pesheva brings out through her eloquence, sure and powerful attack, and her keen sense of the different nuances. It is in this sense that one can talk of three different emotional aspects. The impressionist Ravel is faced with the more expressionistic Scriabin and the vastly younger Albena Petrovic has her own distinctive style without denying her roots.
Vanya Pesheva`s album is a fascinating and brilliant journey through the different musical worlds of these three composers and she made an excellent choice of piano with the warm , round tone of an “Opus 102” grand by Stephen Paulello.
Klassik – begeistert, December 2019
Vanya Pesheva, the energy of hope.
Schubert, Chopin, Rachmaninov – an unexpected programme for such a gentle personality. But only seemingly for on the piano, she summons up the energy necessary through masterful technique. Not only is the technique prodigious, her sensitivity shines through the strings of rapid notes, the polished melodies and those rhythmic ruptures so dear to the romantics.
The passion in calling up the elements: the storm of feelings and the thunderclaps, the timid break of day and the drops of dew, she covers all of these with a keyboard presence and ease which becomes more and more apparent as the concert progresses. The applause reflects the incredible energy of this young woman.
…transcendence with Rachmaninov; one imagines that it was not by chance that she chose to finish with this composer. The rapid repeated notes, the lyric surges, the half-tones are all there, imbued with energy and feminine sensitivity.
Accustomed to fine international concert platforms, the pianist, born in Sofia, gave us a contribution from her native country; the nocturne opus 59 composed in 1965 by Pancho Vladigerov which made us think of Debussy. The interpretation held all our attention; the best of her art is concentrated in the power of expression, the finesse and lucidity.
The last concert in the season for Prague Muses featured Vanya Pesheva.
Her precise interpretation of two parts of Ravel`s Gaspard de la nuit captured the audience from the first notes of an exceptionally cultivated performance, alloyed to an amazing technique.Vanya Pesheva studied in Sofia and Rome; apart from playing solo concerts and chamber music, she also has regular teaching duties. Her talent is apparent in the study and presentation of works from the most varied epochs, always with empathy and brilliant technique; she can vary her touch in many ways.
Sonata no. 5 by Alexander Scriabin, under the hands of Vanya Pesheva, featured this virtuosity of touch and showed that she has virtually no limits in either technique or expression.
RAVEL Gaspard de la nuit. Petrovic Mirages. Scriabin Piano Sonata No.5
The booklet note for this impressive recital tells us that Vanya Pesheva prefers to focus her programming on the most difficult works technically and to play them with emotional intensity. That spells out what is evident from the first measure of “Ondine,” the opening movement of Gaspard de la nuit, namely, that a formidable technique is put at the service of personal expression. There are certain pianists, especially in the Russian school, for whom this comes naturally, as it obviously does for Pesheva, who was born in Bulgaria and began her performing career very early.
Her choice of programming places Ravel at the Impressionist end of the emotional spectrum and Scriabin at the Expressionist end. But in this case Impressionism isn’t based on visual images; rather, Pesheva takes the glittering passagework in “Ondine” and underlines its rhythmic pulse in a strong, pronounced way. For her, emotions underlie everything. “Gibet” is also arresting in her hands, less gloomily eerie than usual and more directly expressive. The benefit of such an approach is that the listener feels connected to the performer personally instead of sitting back to await technical displays. A pianist from the past I’m reminded of is the bold young Ivo Pogorelich, although Pesheva doesn’t adopt his extremes of tempo and mannered phrasing. Her “Scarbo” is wonderfully animated, turned into a character you can almost reach out and touch.
Scriabin’s career, like Szymanowski’s, exhibits a constant yearning for new expressive idioms, both composers basking in the reinvention of the piano’s soundscape by Debussy and the intense emotionalism of Rachmaninoff. Those tendencies pull in opposite directions, and in Scriabin’s Sonata No. 5 from 1907 expression bursts at the seams of harmony in a restless movement of constant inventiveness. Pesheva delivers an intensely dramatic reading that emphasizes the feeling of spontaneity. Like the young Pogorelich, she leans just enough toward the wild side to keep the listener completely engaged.
The Bulgarian-born composer Albena Petrovic (b. 1965), who has pursued her career in Luxembourg, is also an accomplished pianist and has the influence of both Ravel and Scriabin behind her as performer and composer. At around 30 minutes, her four-part piece Mirages is the longest on the program. Each part has its own opus number and descriptive title: “…I am waiting for you there at the end of winter,” “…still far, further, further,” “…Sevdana’s tribute,” and “…and the dance of our shadows.” These titles sound almost as if they came from Debussy’s imagination, but Petrovic’s contemporary idiom is thoroughly grounded in absorbing the history of the avant-garde.
Mirages partakes of an invention of Petrovic’s, extending the piano’s range by having the performer play one or two percussion instruments placed at the side. The first example, in “…I am waiting for you there at the end of winter” is a tiny bell, which reappears in the second piece and is expanded into a gentle cascade of tinkling bells in the third piece. Petrovic has another motive, which is to give the pianist some freedom of creative expression that isn’t tied to the notes on the page. (Whether accidental or not, there’s an echo of the little bell in Ravel’s “Gibet.”) Petrovic has merged the avant-garde with accessibility by basing her piano pieces on strong, memorable, assertive gestures, often at the lowest and highest octaves of the piano.
Petrovic has expressed her interest in dream states and in sounds on the verge of silence. Mirages successfully evokes both elements and leaves an impression overall of an entrancing, ethereal vision. Pesheva is the latest in a series of talented exponents attracted to Petrovic’s unique idiom. I can assure readers for whom “avant-garde” raises a red flag that Mirages is very engaging without prior knowledge of Petrovic’s methods. There are many places reminiscent of Gaspard, in fact, and the writing is quite pianistic, which Pesheva takes full advantage of. She is a thoroughly captivating pianist, and her new CD is warmly recommended. Huntley Dent
Fanfare Magazine, December 2020
“… a brilliant musician with a unique interpretation style, possessing all qualities required for an artistic career – outstanding technique and individuality of performance”
Prof. Jenny Zaharieva
The constant action of ocean waves fascinates the observer and even more the listener .Single sounds are released and collapse, becoming larger units.
When waves break in abrupt movements one experiences a kind of rest in unrest. This is everywhere – on the piano, in the highest register but also swelling up from the deepest notes.
When Vanya Pesheva conjures up the water nymph Undine in the first part of Ravel`s trilogy Gaspard de la Nuit, the Bulgarian artist develops refreshingly free agogics of high suggestive power.
After such a display of strength at the beginning, the real skill is to hold this emotional level throughout the programme. In this CD, Vanya Pesheva sets the bar extremely high with no less than three exceptional aspects.
A clever dramatic line, present from the start in Ravel`s trilogy Gaspard de la nuit, provides the basis for the undertaking, Maurice Ravel`s macabre picture of a hanging man in Le gibet is not only sober, it has its own form of mysticism. To bring this out, Vanya Pesheva stresses the stoic pendulum movements with complete calm. The third piece from Gaspard de la Nuit is the ultimate in expressive and pianistic adventure. Despite the weighty character, Vanya Pesheva attacks this polytonal and polymetric cosmos with utmost precision, sometimes with the lightest of touch, where others have long considered the piece unplayable.
Richness of colour and expression density
What remains to be said after this piece of unfiltered Ravel colour? Albena Petrovic`s Mirages are like a subjective response from the 21st century.
A rhapsodic thread provided by a single burdon note on a kind of bell runs through four long pieces. Clusters and atonal arpeggios give the work almost an improvisational character. Vanya Pesheva`s fineness of touch and use of colour continue to contribute to expression density, particularly as the music becomes more minimalistic and thus more hypnotic than the orgiastic Ravel.
Alexander Scriabin`s Sonata no. 5 closes the ring and follows on from the elementary forces and pianistic challenges we saw at the beginning, Despite the incredible concentration of notes, rhythms and harmonies, Vanya Pesheva always leaves room for contemplation and proves herself competent to tackle all the changes in mood of these many aspects.
Klassik Heute , January 2020