No less a person than Sir Georg Solti said, "Lora is an outstanding pianist
and an exceptionally fine musician." The distinguished composer Francis Routh
was grateful to me for my introducing Lora to and he composed his Scenes
for Piano IV, 'Bretagne', Op 68 for her. And this Bulgarian pianist is
keen to perform British works; she told me that a performance of James Brown's
Piano Sonata would have the same effect as Horowitz premiering the
Barber Sonata; she is keen to play the Searle Sonata which
she describes as 'stunningly original and astonishing'. When I heard her
performance of Bartók's Piano Concerto No 3 and, later, Beethoven's
Sonata in C minor Op 111, I was amazed at her insight into these works.
Her skill and technique are irreproachable.
I was thrilled at her approach to the Bach; the opening movement especially
was very tender. She does not play Bach with all those stylish quirks that
are profoundly irritating such as almost grinding to a halt at cadential
climaxes or at the end of a movement, or those emphasised trills and other
ornaments. Here are performances that have a continuity and a clarity and,
quite frankly, everyone should play Bach like this. When she plays chords
each and every note is clear and they are not announced in a baroque style.
The absence of the hindrances and impediments of 'style' lifts this music
out of the mundane and into something truly delightful. Every note is placed
with care. It is a beautiful performance and her tone is simply perfect.
I repeat, everyone should play Bach like this.
The Bartók requires pianistic skills not required in baroque or classical
repertoire. Maintaining demanding rhythms can be a serious pitfall but not
so here. The sign of a truly great pianist is when the difficulties do not
show. They don't here.
The Schumann is the most important work on the disc. The Thirteen Symphonic
Studies are implemented by the additional five posthumous variations
which Brahms rescued after Schumann's death. The work began as a theme and
variations and seemed to depict Schumann's romance with Ernestine von Fricken.
That the theme is a kind of funeral march may tell us about this romance
or Schumann's depression at his foreknowledge of its eventual demise. Whatever
may be the case, it is a fine work and avoids being a set of miniatures which
some believe his Carnival Op 9 to be. The later work comes across
as a whole.
Lora's reading is very secure; it is never ordinary but full of variety,
colour and understanding. It is not just the notes that are known but the
music itself. Lora brings out the beauty and elegance of the work and there
is much to admire. Some of the music does tend to ramble and be too introspective
and one may not always be in the mood for what may be Schumann's heart-searching.
But this performance takes us to the soul of Schumann and I know no pianist
who ever did this before with this deeply felt score.
The recording is very clear although I would have preferred a little more
bass ... but that is a minor point in a recital that has given a very rewarding