Wednesday 20 November 2013

Ivana Gavrić is a fine advocate for the piano works of Grieg on a recent release from Champs Hill Records

Ivana Gavrić's debut disc for Champs Hill Records  In the mists won her BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer of the Year 2011 for ‘playing of an altogether extraordinary calibre’. Her second disc, From the street, received enthusiastic reviews with BBC Music Magazine who wrote of her ‘hypnotically compelling’ playing.

Ivana Gavrić, named Gramophone’s One to Watch and BBC Music Magazine’s Rising Star, has performed on the major concert platforms in the UK including The Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall, as well as across Europe, in Canada, Japan and Russia.

As a chamber musician, she has performed with violinist Maxim Vengerov in 2007 as part of Live Music Now, the outreach scheme established by the late Lord Menuhin. She has partnered colleagues on the concert platform in festivals in the UK and Europe, taken part in the IMS Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music Sessions and is an alumna of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. Outside the concert hall she is featured playing Chopin and Beethoven in BBC2’s adaptation of The Line of Beauty, and Bach in Anthony Minghella’s film Breaking and Entering.

Born into a musical family in Sarajevo, Ivana was initially taught by her mother. On moving to the UK, she studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Junior Department; University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. Her teachers have included Niel Immelman, Peter Bithell and James Gibb, as well as further study with musicians such as Menahem Pressler, Ferenc Rados, Dmitry Bashkirov, Boris Berman, Stephen Kovacevich and Leif Ove Andsnes.

Champs Hill Records have recently released Ivana Gavrić's third disc featuring Edvard Grieg’s (1843-1907)  Ballade in G minor, a selection of Lyric Pieces and Slåtter (Norwegian Peasant Dances) and his Piano Sonata in E minor.


Grieg wrote his Ballade in G minor, Op.24 during the winter of 1875-76, around the time he was also completing his incidental music for Peer Gynt. The opening, descending theme receives just the right amount of firmness to lift the music from being too gentle, too introverted. Elsewhere Ivana Gavrić provides a lovely ebb and flow to the music and some extremely fine playing in the more dynamic passages. She has a lovely fluency and purity of tone that is quite beguiling and which reveals all the different moods of this attractive piece.

Ivana Gavrić gives us a selection of six of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces from his Op.38, Op.43, Op.54 and Op.65 collections. Butterfly, Op.43 No.1 is played with a lovely lightness of touch and a gentle, subtle rubato. With Waltz, Op.38 No.7 Gavrić extracts so much feeling from this simple waltz and Little Bird, Op.43 No.4 reveals this pianist’s exquisite touch, beautifully done. Gavrić plays with such restraint in Notturno, Op.54 No.4 that it is elevated to a minor gem whilst her directness of approach in Peasant’s Song, Op.65 No.2 brings so much to the folksy little tune. Finally we have perhaps the best known of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, the Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op.65 No.6 played with such a delightfully buoyant touch that this is a performance to treasure. This has much of the feel of a live performance.

Grieg’s Slåtter, Op.72 (Norwegian Peasant Dances) date from 1902, Slåtter being Norwegian for Tunes. Here we have four drawn from that collection, opening with No.14, Tussebrurefœra på Vossevangen (The Goblin’s Bridal Procession), where this pianist gives us some lovely, pure sprung rhythms; again revealing her fine touch – so beautifully controlled and nuanced providing delicacy with power. No.4, Haugelåt halling (Halling from the Hills) follows where Gavrić again shows her affinity with this composer with playing that reveals such character. In the odd little No.17, Kivlemöyerne Gangar (The Girls of Kivledal Folk Dance), Gavrić’s clarity and fine touch reveals all the little twists and turns of this piece and No.2, John Vaestafae’s Springdans (John Vaestafae’s Dance), shows how wonderfully this pianist handles all the little rhythmic variations.

The Piano Sonata in E minor, Op.7, from 1865, has a lovely flowing, rippling opening to the Allegro moderato. As the bolder phrases arrive, Gavrić displays such fluency and power in her playing. She brings a sense of nostalgia to Grieg’s lovely Andante molto before broadening out, beautifully, in the middle.

A richness, with clarity fills the Alla Menuetto, ma poco più lento, with lovely delicate playing in the central, so finely paced. Whilst this movement never seems to sit well in this work, this performance ties it in far better than one could ever expect. The Finale:  Molto allegro is full of tremendous playing, such fine dynamics, again clarity and great panache.

How apt is was to conclude this fine disc with Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s – Lyric Piece Contemplation (Lyric Piece in Homage to Grieg) written on four bars taken from the slow movement of Grieg’s Sonata and given a wonderfully free treatment that nevertheless retains the essence of Grieg in this sensitive performance.

Ivana Gavrić is a fine advocate for the works of Grieg and this new release will bring much pleasure to listeners.

The nicely produced CD booklet, with notes by Daniel Jaffa and a forward from the pianist herself, tells us that she visited Grieg’s composing hut at his home in Troldhaugen outside Bergen. There are interesting booklet photographs taken near Grieg’s home as well as interesting photographs of a Hardanger fiddle, an interesting Norwegian folk instrument, on which the Slåtter would originally have been performed and for which Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981) wrote two concertos which have been recorded by BIS Records

Ivana Gavrić has a number of UK engagements coming up including Wigmore Hall, London at 1pm on 28th November 2013. For further details please see her website

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