Ivana Gavrić drew a full-house to Wigmore Hall for a well-planned programme drenched in expressive nineteenth-century Romanticism and full of poetic imagery. She is a pianist with great sensitivity to mood and an ability to create atmosphere.
The first movement of Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata, with its impulsive fluctuations of tempo, was natural and spontaneous with many subtle dynamic shadings, and the slow one had warmth and tenderness and then much delightful detail in the Finale with its ending magically achieved. Gavrić’s performance was distinguished by playing of clarity and beautifully fluid phrasing, freshly imagined.
Gavrić sees Chopin’s Mazurkas as “poignant diary entries”. In the Opus 17 set she emphasised the dance element and rhythms had real lift. She also caught the music’s nostalgia and suggested hidden worlds of emotion with tempos and phrasing that were exceptional and consistently illuminating of the music.
The rest was Liszt. His Petrarch Sonnets were inspired by the Italian Renaissance poet Francesco Petrarca and each is a meditation on love, more specifically his fondness for Laura de Noves. Originally conceived as songs, Liszt recast them as piano pieces, his response to the poetry. Moments of contemplation, and intense agitation and agony capture Petrarch’s state of mind. Gavrić made the most of these dramatic contrasts, powerfully rendered, although the moment of repose after the prayer-like final cadence of No.104 was lost due to serial coughers in the audience. In the final Sonnet Gavrić found ardour and introspection. Rhapsodie espagnole obliged Gavrić to be a more conventional virtuoso, opening with a grand flourish and then bringing delicacy, rhythmic lift and a sense of fun to the whole; the escalating tension at the end was exhilarating.
As an encore Gavrić played another Chopin Mazurka (in C, Opus 24/2), elegantly and intimately, a perfect end to a quite gorgeous recital.