Every magical note of Tsybuleva’s performance held the audience spellbound by her artistry.
Clearly a sensitive soul…she knows how to float long, lyrical lines with a cushioned singing tone, and how to blend rippling passagework with the orchestra… a fine artist in the making.
Anna Tsybuleva’s piano recital at Rhos-y-Gilwen was a revelation of mature musicianship, combined with an extraordinary communicative skill rare in a young musician, conjuring up a sound world of endless colour, making it possible for a program of three largely neglected works to totally command the attention of the large audience.
We don’t like her because we are enchanted. We are enchanted because she is a great pianist. […] With what mastery she is able to invite gracefulness to her fingertips, add incisiveness to detail, vigour to virtuosity! With what acute sensitivity she retells a gradation of slurs, dynamics, and soft, subtle, suffused, penetrating and dense, shaded, full-toned, solid sounds! It really seems she will need nothing to quickly establish herself for a long time in the international hall of fame.
“The piano playing of this magnetic young Russian artist is thoughtful, elegant, yet exciting… Anna, you are an artist of great heart, mind, and fabulous fingers. Encore!”
“[Tsybuleva] examines the fantasy concept on a case by case basis, stepping aside to let the composers make their own statements. We get C. P. E. Bach’s decorative yet expressive take, Beethoven’s eccentricity, Schubert’s operatic vision, and the full-throated high Romanticism of Brahms.”
“I have admired Richter’s take… but this new recording is even more satisfying for its broader approach…”
Leeds winner Anna Tsybuleva gave a performance of such captivating freshness and beauty…
Entitled Fantasien Anna Tsybuleva’s enterprising recital reflects a pianist of a rare gifts. A lover of “the absence of borders in our dreams” (to quote her own moving and modest accompanying note), this winner of the 2015 Leeds Competition offers the strangeness, not to say eccentricity, of CPE Bach, the explosive whimsy of Beethoven’s Fantasie Op. 77, the virtuosity of the Wanderer Fantasy (unique in Schubert) and the alternating hallucinatory and turbulent world of Brahms’ Op. 116. Without forcing pace or sonority but with an easy mastery, Tsybuleva makes her purely musical concern in the Schubert clear in every bar, a far cry from other high-octane virtuoso performances, while in Brahms Intermezzi Nos 4-6 her inwardness and sense of beauty are unforgettable. Not since Murray Perahia’s triumph in 1972 has Leeds had a winner of this musical poise and calibre.
Anna Tsybuleva: Fantasien
Piano fantasias may have started off as essentially improvisational in nature, yet the genre evolved into something less clearly defined, more all-embracing. Consider the four large-scale opuses put together for this ‘all fantasies’ programme. Schubert’s WandererFantasy, for example, provided the template for continuous single-movement sonatas such as the Liszt B minor, the later Scriabin sonatas and so on. The seven short pieces encompassing Brahms’s Op 116 are short and concisely structured. Only the opening CPE Bach and Beethoven compositions are fantasies in the word’s purest sense.
More importantly, however, these compositions add up to a well-contrasted and stimulating totality, abetted by Anna Tsybuleva’s superb pianism and intelligent musicianship. Her sense of timing and innate feeling for shaping grand, impulsive gestures effectively accentuate Bach’s volatile creativity and unpredictable harmonic detours. Rather than pounce upon the Beethoven’s opening downward declamatory scales, Tsybuleva delineates them with care. In due course her playing becomes looser and less fettered, yet a thoughtful presence is always felt.
Tsybuleva forcefully launches into the Schubert, keeping the composer’s con fuoco directive in mind. She relaxes just a smidgen for the lyrical E major theme, yet keeps the textures crisp through her spare pedalling, while taking the climactic octaves in effortless stride. The Adagio variations benefit from a strong left-hand presence and as little expressive lily-gilding as possible. The fugal finale is consistently clear and avoids building too much too soon, although a little more drive and ferocity à la Richter, Fleisher or (more recently) Primakov wouldn’t have hurt.
In the Brahms group, Tsybuleva brings shapeful specificity to the long lines as they cross from one register to the next, justifying her terse pacing for the E major Intermezzo and an A minor Intermezzo that might sound too deliberate in less knowing hands. The sound may be a tad diffuse but it conveys palpable concert-hall realism.
What a glorious recital this was on every level – a fantasia in itself – musical, poetical, intellectual, sensual yet refined with supreme elegance and sensibility.
At 26, Russian pianist Anna Tsybuleva is already more than just a ‘talent’. Performing in the Young Pianists series at the BASF Casino, the winner of the Leeds Piano Competition performed a well-judged programme including pieces by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy and Dmitri Shostakovich which left the audience feeling they had watched her pass a test of versatility with flying colours.
Anna Tsybuleva… has the toned looks and body of a gymnast, very much in keeping with her rhythmic, muscular playing and rapid-response attack, all of which radiated a very Russian style of pianistic discipline.
So much for her “sensitive” or “galant” style! The edges and angles in Anna Tsybuleva’s interpretation of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Sonata in G minor underlined the initially rather presumptuous sounding reference to C.P.E. Bach’s “eccentric tonal language” in the programme notes. Dry scales, sudden mood changes, abruptly ending introverted passages: at Tsybuleva’s hands, this music sounds excitingly modern, as if refracted through the Russian prism of Shostakovich, Prokofiev or even Alfred Schnittke. Nothing is as it seems; everything is open to question. Carl Philipp Emanuel, second son of Johann Sebastian Bach, becomes an exciting figure, playing with the traditional and the contemporary. The pianist’s decision to place Shostakovich’s Preludes Op 24 at the end of the programme proved another master stroke for he, too, likes to play with the compositional achievements and possibilities of his time.
At just 25 years old, this was the Russian pianist’s first appearance at the Ruhr Piano Festival and she performed with a striking yet entirely justified musical aplomb. She clearly knows exactly what she wants, displaying determined creative drive rather than a desire to lose herself in the music. In her playing every note, every accent has its meaning. Shostakovich was just one year older than Tsybuleva when he created the musical universe of his Preludes and she is clearly a kindred spirit: young and wild. In any event, she hits the changing cadences of his music with great stylistic assurance, finding its gruff, often enigmatic humour as well as the recurring lyrical inflections that conceal any number of musical devils. Her playing had immense force and energy but also displayed a seductive lightness as she created an atmosphere of salon-like charm only to break it with an ironic thrust moments later.
She brought a clear structure to Johannes Brahms’ seven Fantasias Op 116. There was no romantic gloss here, every detail taking its place in the overall picture as her highly nuanced interpretation offered subtle changes in pace, now slowing, now accelerating, but always with an innate logic. The way she drew the two anacrustic quavers through the pause which follows them and into the next note, or grouped together four pairs of quavers as if tracing an arc, in the E minor Intermezzo No 5 Andante con grazia, for example, showed great awareness of form as well as creating an advancing undercurrent, the whole thing buoyed up by an almost unreal timbre. Here again, Anna Tsybuleva showed a certain originality of mind. This is someone not content to play her Brahms the way everyone else does; someone who wants to assert her own style. And because it is as well thought through as it is executed, her playing never descends into mere mannerism.
Max Reger’s Aquarelle Op 25 are a real, albeit slightly insubstantial rarity: five short mood pieces in the romantic tradition which Anna Tsybuleva interpreted with great lightness of touch and humour. Even as she tantalised the audience in moments just a hair’s breadth from salon music, it was always with the masterful distance required to avoid false sentiment. The same was true of her encore, a waltz by Camille Saint-Saens. Here she pulled off a real feat, playing what is clearly a bravura piece with no little virtuosity in something of the manner of a “last dance” whilst simultaneously imbuing it with a dry ambiguity à la Shostakovich and so giving the strongest passages a musical function which suddenly lent the piece an unexpected interest. Right down to the very last note, Anna Tsybuleva emphatically laid claim to a place in the world of concert pianists. She is someone we will undoubtedly hear more of.
Piano festival Ruhr 2016
Bochum, Arts Museum
24th May 2016
Last Thursday, along with some other jury members, I went to what was possibly the most inspiring recital I have heard for years – certainly one of them.
Anna Tsybuleva gave us a program of C.P.E. Bach, Schumann, Prokofiev and Hindemith that made me believe – agreed by those who came with me – that she is, along with Daniil Trifonov and Seong Jin Cho, one of the very finest young musicians of her generation. It was slightly odd that the final work of the program should be a viola sonata played by Ms Tsebuleva and her new husband Ivan Agafonov, but nevertheless an excellent performance of said Hindemith Sonata, and preceded by performances of Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques and Prokofiev’s 10 pieces Op 12 of such imagination and integrity that it is difficult to describe. I only hesitate to write anything about the C.P.E. Bach sonata because I was unfamiliar with the work, but, from the first phrase, that also conjured up an extremely colourful sound world coming from a unique voice. She has an unerring sense of breathing and space and an instinct for tempo-appropriatenes in relation to her approach to sound and phrase. And her technique almost goes without mentioning as it is absolutely not the point of her playing at all.
Hearing this recital made me refresh my memory regarding what left a sour taste in the mouth at the time when I read the mean-spirited press response to her winning first prize at the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, which, having looked again at what was written, seems even more mean-spirited now, with the benefit of hindsight.
That the Leeds Competition came up with a result like this one – which it has not always done – should be something of which we in the U.K. should be proud. Instead of that there was a series of meaningless sniping online comments by people who should know better, that seems in retrospect to have been a campaign – a prevailing wind – against the competition itself, masquerading as genuine intelligent, constructive and critical commentary – which it wasn’t. Either that or my ears were deceiving me, as her recital seemed to me to be superb in every way (as indeed did her performances of Shostakovich and Debussy at Leeds) – one that I feel very privileged to have heard”
This evening we were privileged to witness one of the finest young pianists in Europe performing at Ripon Cathedral. Anna Tsybuleva, who won the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2015 is a highly intelligent and elegant young lady who gives what appear to be effortless performances and tonight was no exception. It was also a delight, but possibly a trifle nerve wracking for Anna to have Dame Fanny Waterman sitting in the front row watching her protégé! Its hard to believe, but it’s her 97th birthday this week!
The programme for this evening’s concert was an interesting mix with Scarlatti, Brahms, Mozart and Schumann. Scarlatti’s Sonata in A major K208 is very short with a light repetitive theme played with a light hand and great musicality; his sonata in F Minor/major K519 is equally short but more complex and one of his most popular sonatas.
Anna’s versatility was to the fore in Brahms’s Sonata No 2 in F sharp minor a much more complex and demanding piece requiring considerable strength in the more vigorous sections – interestingly this strength appears to come from within, she’s not one of those pianists who seem about to leap out of their seat and, to my mind, all the better for that. After the interval we moved on to Mozart’s Nine Variations in C Major. I know not why, but I love variations, perhaps the cleverness in composing so many different ideas from the same original theme; anyway these series of nine variations are a joy to hear and Anna’s touch and flair only added to the enjoyment. Sometimes the acoustics in Ripon Cathedral can be intrusive, but where I was sitting there was not a problem I’m pleased to say.
The final item on the programme was Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes Op 13. Its reasonable to say that these Etudes are in some measure Variations; composed or first published in 1837 they individually quite short, but there being at least nine variations together with three others it is quite a long piece. Again it shows the pianist’s ability to control the emotions of the music and Anna Tsybuleva again showed her mastery of the keyboard. I really enjoyed it and, judging by the applause, so did everyone else. We weren’t finished yet, she came back and played a delightful short piece by Prokofiev – Prelude (The Harp) Opus 12.
An evening to remember, it was a wise decision to move the venue from the quire to the main body of the cathedral as it was very well attended. One can see a great future ahead for Anna Tsybuleva – she really was remarkable. The Cathedral Concert Society are to be commended for bringing her to Ripon.
It is not often that one gets to hear two piano concertos by two composers, performed by two pianists during one event. Those however, who happened to attend the Elbląg Chamber Orchestra concert yesterday, were able to hear the Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C major (interestingly, it was the No. 13 rather than the more popular No. 21) performed by Ms. Anna Tsybuleva, as well as the Beethoven’s Piano Concerto delivered by Mr. Szymon Nehring. The Orchestra and the soloists played under the direction of a young and very dynamic conductor Mr. Jakub Chrenowicz.
Tansman was followed by the classics – behind the Yamaha, brought to the edge of the stage, Anna Tsybuleva sat down to play Mozart. Major key concertos by this musical genius usually seem to be easy – court-appropriate, unassuming, entertaining pieces. Not everyone, however, is able to capture the light-heartedness, easiness and musicality of young Wolfie’s music in such a radiant and melodious way, as was demonstrated by this young, Russian pianist. From its very first bars, she seemed to very much enjoy the concerto – equally playing it and listening to it. With an almost constant smile on her face (smiles were also frequently exchanged by the band members), she calmly flew through all the parts, delivering the trills with a surprisingly accurate bird-song-like quality and showcasing the charm and joy of this composition, as well as revealing the concerto’s potential for a superb spring “wake-up call”, if only in the hearts of the listeners. Moreover, she rendered the peaceful motif in part II much like a beautiful narrative. Anna Tsybulseva’s interpretation was filled with tranquility, but also vitality and an excellent sense of proportion and harmony. The concerto seemed to come together under the pianist’s deft hand, almost as if it has been written just for her.
The Association Ars Antonina, in partnership with the Monaco Government, presented the debut recital in the Principality of Monaco of the Russian pianist, Anna Tsybuleva, at the Théâtre des Variétés before an enthusiastic audience. This young artist (born in 1990) took the world by storm in 2015 when she won First Prize at the renowned Leeds International Piano Competition. Her first CD of works by Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms has been received to critical acclaim. From the offset, the Scarlatti sonatas revealed a delicacy of touch and a rich palette of colours. The difficult “Wanderer Fantasy” of Schubert showed a dazzling and robust virtuosity with flawless playing, and Schumann’s “Symphonic Studies” confirmed a rare combination of fullness of sound and maturity of style. The audience was grateful to be offered Debussy’s “Prelude”s and “Ile Joyeuse” with such refinement, clear understanding and delicate sensibility. The two encores – Liszt’s “La Legerezza” and Chopin’s “Waltz” – drew standing ovations. Anna Tsybuleva is an accomplished artist who is already one of the most promising of her generation and who we would like to hear as soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo without delay. There is no doubt that the extraordinary qualities of this already much-acclaimed young pianist will enable her to achieve an immense international career.
A night to remember
The audience at Cockermouth Music Society’s October piano recital will long
remember the night when Anna Tsybuleva, winner of the leeds International Piano
Competition came all the way from Moscow to play for the town. A slight elegant
figure with the poise and profile of a young ballerina, this pianist proceeded to exude
incredible power, amazing dynamic control and superb understanding of the music. A
Bach Largo arranged for piano gave us an introduction to what was to come with a
beautifully managed account of Bach’s sonorities, followed by a breathtaking
performance of Schumann’s First Sonata which did full justice to all the emotional
nuances and ideas of the composer, spot on accuracy never compromised by the
power with which it was played.
Baroque music from Rameau followed the interval, such a contrast in styles to which
Anna switched with ease; clarity and beauty in every line, particularly in the piece
which calls for tremendous cross-hand dexterity and aptly named Les Trois Mains.
The concert finished with a selection of Debussy Preludes and L’Isle Joyeuse, where
there was enjoyment in every line. Anna has the ability to portray each piece in the
way she moves to the music which adds to the picture she paints on the piano.
General Lavine strutted convincingly, we could hear the wind in the plain and Feux
d’Artifice(fireworks) shot dazzlingly across the sky in the most satisfactory and
breathtaking way. No wonder the audience rose to their feet to applaud, which elicited
an encore, La Campanella. Sparkling and joyful, this was the perfect ending to a
brilliant performance which will long be remembered by all who were priveleged to
the “Times and Star” October 20th 2017, Susan Allison