Classical Album of the Week: Pianist Beatrice Rana Blazes in Ravel and Stravinsky

Jun 22, 2020

June 22, 2020. Just 27 years old, Italian pianist Beatrice Rana has released three major-label albums of diverse repertoire, from powerhouse concerti to the Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach. Our Classical Album of the Week represents Rana’s third album, released in 2019 from Warner. It shows the blistering technique and refined sense of color that won her the Silver Medal in the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition.

The album opens with Ravel’s great piano suite Miroirs (Mirrors.) Though we often hear two of the movements in Ravel’s orchestration, the full scope of Ravel’s poetic imagination comes through in the five movements of the original piano version: Noctuelles (Moths,) Oiseuax tristes (Sad Brds,) Une barque sur l’ocean (A Boat on the Ocean,) Alborado del gracioso (Morning Song of the Jester,) and La Vallee des cloches (Valley of the Bells.) Rana describes Ravel’s writing as “totally crystalline, as clear as a mirror.” The same can be said of Rana’s playing -- just listen to her quicksilver passagework in Oiseaux tristes or her driving, impeccable repeated notes in Alborado del gracioso.

Stravinsky’s enormous early ballet scores receive very different treatments for solo piano. Guido Agosti’s transcription of the three movements of The Firebird Suite are, as Rana says, “Stravinsky with an Italian accent.”

Rana brings a huge range of sound and fierce life to Stravinsky’s own formidable reduction for solo piano of three movements from Petrouchka.

The album ends, as it begins, with Ravel. Rana grabs the listener with her sometimes-ghostly, sometimes-volcanic interpretation of Ravel’s reimagined Viennese ballroom. This is La Valse with a full-blooded, fiery approach.