Katia SkanaviPhoto - Vladimir Klavijo

Moscow-born pianist Katia Skanavi has spent recent seasons playing across Europe and in Japan, Canada and throughout the USA, but this month has seen her debut in Australia. As well as playing the works of well-known composers Chopin and Schubert, Katia took on the task of performing one of the latest compositions penned by Western Australian composer Carl Vine.

Carl Vine opened the concert with a brief description of his piece, explaining that there was no explicit story – a deliberate decision to allow those listening to make up their own minds. He did let us know we could expect plenty of drama and emotion. After introducing Katia, Carl then sat down in the audience to enjoy the performance.

Katia strolled decisively onto stage in an elegant long black dress with gold thread and began playing almost immediately. Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A minor, op 143, was the opener and Katia’s performance was absorbing from the start. Her fingers danced over the keys, one moment delicate and the other powerful. Her backless dress allowed the audience to see her body engage with the music - at times bent over, at others stark upright with rigid arms. The delight she displayed in performing this hauntingly beautiful piece was matched by the audience’s enjoyment.

Carl’s Piano Sonato no 3 was modern and exciting. The four sections – fantastic – rondo – variations – presto - flowed on from each other with minimal pause and the variation, which explored the original rhythmic motive of the rondo, was particularly enchanting. While it was a darker piece, under Katia’s fingers it was still light and enjoyable.

Two of Chopin’s works followed after the interval, and it was clear that Katia relishes the work of this composer. There was a purity about her performance that must be what Carl meant when he described Katia’s playing as “paring away all superfluity in her performances to unveil the pure essence of the music”.

It was a rare treat to listen to this world class performer, who has appeared with many of the world’s great orchestras and played in some of the world’s finest concert halls, performing the work of one of our own composers.

Katia Skanavi

Venue: Perth Concert Hall
Date/Time: Tuesday 5 May at 7.30pm
Tickets: $33 - $61
Bookings: www.bocsticketing.com.au

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