The Italian pianist Beatrice Rana can certainly be counted as a prodigy, with major concerts, prizes, and recordings under her belt even before she reached her 21st birthday. Yet she has also conducted her career with maturity, continuing to study even after reaching the pianistic top rank, and setting aside a work (the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1) for which she felt unready at 15, and returning to it later. Rana was born in Copertino, Italy, on January 22, 1993. In a way, her training began in the womb; her parents are both professional pianists and played in her presence during her mother's pregnancy. When Beatrice was six months old she was reaching toward a piano keyboard from her mother's lap, and at four she began formal lessons. A younger sister, Ludovica, also became a classical musician, a cellist. At nine Beatrice gave a concerto performance at the San Marino International Piano Competition, and by her teenage years she was performing with major European orchestras. She studied with Arie Vardi in Hannover, Germany, and with Benedetto Lupo in Rome; the latter remained her teacher and mentor in the late 2010s. Rana's breakthrough came in 2011 with the first prize and special jury prizes at the Montreal International Piano Competition. "From the moment she sat down at the piano during the first round of the competition, Rana sent chills through the room," reported La Scena Musicale. She almost missed the competition after officials at her high school demanded that she take scheduled exams, but a compromise was finally brokered by her mother. A silver medal at the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition showed that the victory was no fluke, and Rana began to attract honors with a wider time frame, such as inclusion on International Piano's 30 under 30 listing in 2014 and BBC New Generation Artist designation the following year. The year 2015 also saw the release of Rana's rapturously received debut album on Warner Classics, pairing the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16 (during a performance of which she once broke a piano string), and the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1, with the accompaniment of conductor Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In 2017 Rana released a recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, a work not normally essayed by young pianists.
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released February 24, 2017 | Warner Classics
“I like challenges,” says the 23-year-old Italian pianist Beatrice Rana. Specifically, she enjoys studying and performing music that allows her to embark on a process of deep exploration. The scores for her first Warner Classics recording, released in late 2015, were two formidable and spectacular Russian piano concertos – Tchaikovsky No 1 and Prokofiev No 2. Her performances with Sir Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia led Gramophone to describe her as “a fully developed artist of a stature that belies her tender years,” and to conclude that “I can’t think of another recent concerto release that, beginning to end, affords greater pleasure.” For her new Warner Classics release she has taken on a very different challenge in the form of quieter, less obviously virtuosic masterpiece from an earlier era. It also happens to stand as a pinnacle of the solo keyboard repertoire: Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Bach was the composer who most obsessed Beatrice Rana as a child, and in a recent interview with Pianist magazine, she confessed that it would be his music, and above all the Goldberg Variations, that she would choose if she had to devote her life to a single composer. As she said: “I’m very happy to be going back to Bach … It’s best to avoid Bach in competitions … you can’t expose yourself to be totally killed by the jury! But Bach is my first love; now I am allowed to play it in public and I’m really looking forward to that.” When it comes to competitions, she speaks from experience. She first came to international attention in 2011, when she won First Prize and all the special jury prizes at the Montreal International Competition. Two years later she won the Silver Medal and the Audience Award at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Her exceptional achievement and promise has also been recognised by BBC Radio 3, which has named her one of its New Generation Artists, and by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, which has awarded her a fellowship. Le Monde, France’s most authoritative newspaper, observed that “Beatrice Rana certainly has nothing left to prove when it comes to technique, but what makes an impression are her calm maturity and her sense of architecture.” When she played the Goldberg Variations at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in October 2016, the Bachtrack website – which gave her performance a five-star rating – highlighted her capacity for turning her dazzling technique to interpretative ends and praised the way the apparently instinctive fluidity and energy of her playing was combined with articulacy and an elegant sense of discretion. In her native Italy La Repubblica has described Rana as “the world’s point of reference for excellence among Italian pianists”. When she performed the Goldberg Variations in Vicenza in November 2016, OperaClick wrote that “Rana showed that she had understood the intimate dual essence of the Goldbergs, which oscillates between conceptual abstraction and emotional sensation, and had miraculously found a point of contact between two apparently antithetical worlds.” The previous month, she had played the work in Pisa. The Tuscan newspaper La Nazione spoke of her as a pianist who “amazes with her virtuosity, technical precision and mastery of her instrument”, while the writer for Tutto Mondo described the concert as “one of the most extraordinary performances I have ever witnessed ... her technical control, the crystalline purity of her touch, her clean execution, her deep and intelligent understanding of the score and her splendid musical taste permeated every page, every phrase, every note of the Goldberg Variations.”