Sussex International Piano Competition winner Varvara Tarasova showed amazing composure in her first interview concert on Friday.
The impressive Russian student said the competition, run in conjunction with Worthing Symphony Orchestra last April, had been ‘a great thing’ for her.
Speaking to Timothy Chick at The Denton, Varvara said: “It gave me more confidence, for sure. I realised what I am trying to say on the stage, people can absorb.”
She was a little nervous at first, as it was her first time talking in public, showing more composure controlling the keys than she did with the microphone.
But after performing Beethoven’s Sonata No 26 in E-flat major, she soon settled into a relaxed chat and gave an open and honest interview.
The intimate setting for Worthing Symphony Society’s interview concerts, with the audience seated in the round, enables a better connection to the performer.
Varvara had no trouble composing herself for the musical side of the concert, remaining focused throughout despite the proximity of the listeners.
There was drama and delicacy displayed in the Beethoven, with a lightness of touch and brisk finish.
Varvara chose Brahms’ eight Klavierstücke pieces to end the first half, in complete contrast to the Beethoven.
“For me the difference is so huge,” she said. “I think the fabric is so exciting.
“He opened his soul to us and I was thinking to share his feelings and what he was trying to say.”
Getting across to the audience the feelings the composer is trying to convey seems central to her raison d’être, evident in her playing.
Varvara’s father was an opera singer and mother a music school teacher so music has always been part of her life.
She is currently studying in London, having won a full scholarship.
“The letter came on my birthday and it was the best present ever,” she said.
Compared to Moscow, she said students were given more freedom in London, more chances to perform and more opportunities so that when they graduated, there was more chance of work.
Varvara won the third edition of the Sussex International Piano Competition with her interpretation of Chopin so it was fitting to fill the second half with the composer’s work.
She chose four very different pieces - Nocturne in G minor, 3 Impromptus Opuses, Fantasie-Impromptu in C and Polonaise in A-flat major - and displayed some fast and exciting fingering.
“I love Chopin,” Varvara told us. “It is not often you hear these four pieces together. They are not connected and they are really different.”
To complete the evening, Varvara played the solo piano piece Serenata Andaluza by Manuel de Falla as an encore - then treated us to a little surprise.
Having already told us of her singing background, she showed what a delightful voice she has by performing Le Violette, an operatic aria by Alessandro Scarlatti, accompanied by Aedan Kerney, musical director of Worthing Choral Society.
She really did sing beautifully though Kerney’s experience touch suggested Varvara still has some work to do on her dynamics.
Her ambition to open an arts centre for children, a school of arts connecting painting and music where they can do everything together, was commendable and she was so personable and talented, one could only hope she succeeds.
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