Korepanova opens Rachmaninoff series with power and poetry

By Lawrence Budmen

Asiya Korepanova performed music of Rachmaninoff Tuesday night at Coral Gables Congregational Church. Photo: Emil Matveev

The 150th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff is being celebrated around the globe but Friends of Chamber Music and Piano Lovers South Florida are taking a unique route for the festivities. Over the course of the year, Asiya Korepanova will play all of the Russian master’s solo piano works in six concerts. 

On Tuesday night at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, the Russian-born pianist commenced the series with a program of early keyboard miniatures. Her thrilling performances bode well for future installments in this important survey.

The five Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3, established Korepanova’s firm technique and affinity for the composer’s heart-on-sleeve romanticism. She captured the sadness of the Elegie in E-flat minor, maintaining evenness of musical line and flow. The Prelude in C-sharp minor, perhaps Rachmaninoff’s most familiar work, was slightly understated and all the more effective at Korepanova’s slower tempo. The final notes emerged bell-like under her sensitive touch. Vivid glints of coloration infused the fleet fireworks of Polichinelle in F-sharp minor between full-throttle volleys. In the Latin-infused Serenade in B-flat minor her rhythmic steadiness avoided sentimental exaggeration.

An alternation of elegant Russian angst and imperial pomp in the Nocturne in A minor opened Korepanova’s traversal of the seven Morceaux de salon, Op. 10. The airy melody of the Waltz in A Major was given dashing brio with runs across the keyboard clean and exact. Often played as an encore, the Barcarolle in G minor definitely flows from the boats of the Volga rather than the Seine or the grand canal of Venice. Korepanova captured the vignette’s melodic brooding. The martial, propulsive Humoresque in G Major ended wittily with two surprise soft tones after the seemingly big climax. A final Mazurka in D-flat Major emerged grand and ringing.

The Six Moments musicaux, Op. 16, finds Rachmaninoff writing with increasing sophistication and Korepanova rose to its challenges with her best performances of the evening. 

The Andantino in B-flat minor sings forth with one of those long-spun Rachmaninoff melodies that linger in the memory. Korepanova’s limpid phrasing and melancholic expression fully distilled the miniature’s moody ethos. Fistfuls of notes and virtuosic pyrotechnics in the Presto in E minor find Rachmaninoff in future concerto and sonata mode, and Korepanova easily handled the rapid figurations and bold dynamics. The pianist could caress as well as storm and she accomplished both in the Adagio sostenuto in D-flat Major and the stirring final pages of Maestoso in C Major, putting an exclamation point on a night of high-powered pianism.

Friends of Chamber Music presents the Polonsky-Shrifrin-Wiley Trio playing Beethoven’s Trio in B-flat Major and Trio in E-flat Major and Zemlinsky’s Trio in D minor 8 p.m. January 17 at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ.

The “Rachmaninoff at 150” series continues with Asiya Korepanova playing early works and the Corelli Variations.  8 p.m. March 14 at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ.  miamichambermusic.org

Posted in Performances

2 Responses to “Korepanova opens Rachmaninoff series with power and poetry”

  1. Posted Jan 11, 2023 at 4:03 pm by Frank Cooper

    Most beautifully expressed, Larry. Thank you.

  2. Posted Jan 11, 2023 at 4:50 pm by Elaine Bauer

    Brava❣️ Brava ❣️ Brava ❣️👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🎶

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