Piano Recital

Wednesday 5 June 2019 – 1:00 – 1:40 pm

On Wednesday 5th June, we welcomed the Austrian pianist, Irina Vaterl to the Cathedral, as the first pianist of our ‘First Piano Series’ given by students from the Royal College of Music, London, and by kind permission of Vanessa Latarche (RCM’s Head of Keyboard).

Our regular concert goers gathered around a gleaming grand piano, in anticipation of Romantic music with matching grandeur by Liszt and Schumann! Irina has just completed her Artist Diploma at the RCM, and was returning to Austria after this recital, so we were privileged to hear her diploma programme before she left these shores.

The lunchtime concert, introduced by Nina How, began with Franz Liszt’s ‘Ballade No. 2 in B minor’. The powerful opening bars gave a really dynamic introduction to the recital, and there followed a series of contrasting sections with lilting, romantic themes and key changes, which Irina delivered with passion and conviction.

This second of Liszt’s ballades, is considered to be one of his finest compositions, and was inspired by the Byzantine myth of Hero and Leander. The musical depiction of this tragic love story, involving deep devotion and stormy seas, was exquisitely expressed by Irina, as the work moved inexorably to a quiet and poignant conclusion.

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After the ‘Ballade’, Irina delighted the audience as she introduced her next piece, Robert Schumann’s wonderful ‘Fantasie in C major, Op. 17’, composed in 1836 and later revised and dedicated to Liszt. Similar in popular appreciation to Liszt’s ‘Ballade No. 2’, the ‘Fantasie’ is considered to be one of Schumann’s greatest solo piano works.

The first movement, in which Schumann instructs “absolutely fantastic and passionate presentation” is filled with elaborate rhapsodic themes, embracing glorious melodic phrases. The other two movements were added later, which might explain why all three movements sound as if they could have been written as short rhapsodies or ballades in their own right. The second movement was a favourite of Clara Schumann; and it was in 1866 (ten years after her husband’s passing) that she started performing the ‘Fantasie’ in her concerts. This movement is a ‘grandioso rondo’ based on a majestic march, and with its arpeggio chords and then a change to a rhythmic waltz it recalls some of the emotions felt in the first movement. The final musical statements are so impressive that it felt like the end of the whole work – until the actual grand finale of the third movement. This was a most fitting end to the recital, with sweeping Romantic patterns of varying melodic and harmonic surprises!

Both Liszt’s and Schumann’s works demand vast amounts of physical and emotional stamina, and Irina completely won our hearts, not only for her impeccable attention to detail but also her ability to move our souls with her Romantic interpretation. The loud applause perfectly reflected our appreciation!

On behalf of Andrew Wright, Director of Music at Brentwood Cathedral, we would all like to thank Irina Vaterl for her stunning recital, as we wish her every success and happiness in the future. We hope Irina will return to Brentwood Cathedral very soon!

Julia Bentham

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Programme details

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Ballade No. 2 in B Minor

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Fantasie C Dur, op. 17

– 1. Durchaus phantasisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen

– 2. Mässig. Durchaus energisch. Mässig. Durchaus energisch

– 3. Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten


Austrian-born pianist Irina Vaterl is a graduate from the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz where she studied under the guidance of Lioudmila and Alexandra Satz and with Milana Chernyavska. She finished her Master Degree in June 2017 with the highest grades and with unanimous distinction. Currently she is doing her Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music with Vanessa Latarche and Dimitri Alexeev, where she is a William Mealings Scholar, supported by the George Thornton Award.

Furthermore Irina holds a scholarship for studying at the International Musica Academy in Liechtenstein and she is the winner of the Martha Debelli Scholarship Graz as well as the winner of a scholarship of the Hildegard Maschmann Stiftung Austria.

For her outstanding bachelor thesis about the French woman composer Louise Farrenc, Irina was awarded the Gender-prize of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and in December 2017 she was selected for winning the Wurdigungspreis of the university – an award of excellence going to the best graduates.

Irini Vaterl is the winner of many prizes in national and international competitions in Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain, Serbia, Croatia, Norway, Sweden and France. She is performing on stage as a soloist as well as a musician in various chamber music groups in national and international music festivals.

Recent appearances as a soloist with orchestra include collaborations with the orchestras Virtuosi Italiani, Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Sinfonietta dell ‘arte.” (May 2019)

Admission is free, but we welcome your contribution towards our expenses. If you are a UK tax payer please consider using Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation by a quarter.

Photos – Graham Hillman

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