Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

February 27, 2024

REVIEW: South Windsor Cultural Arts, "Liana Paniyeva"

Evergreen Crossings, South Windsor, CT
February 25, 2024
by Michael J. Moran

Liana Paniyeva
After a prior appearance here and two at Sevenars in Worthington, MA, all within the past two years, Ukrainian-born, Boston-based pianist Liana Paniyeva is now a beloved local visitor, as evidenced by the rapturous welcome of a capacity audience at her return engagement in South Windsor.  

Her technically challenging and emotionally demanding program opened with a powerful rendition of Cesar Franck’s rarely heard 1884 “Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue.” Paniyeva’s tense, foreboding Prelude, solemn, probing “Chorale,” and fiercely dramatic “Fugue” captured both the piece’s mystical fervor and its virtuosic thrills.  

This was followed by stirring accounts of Johannes Brahms’ two 1879 Rhapsodies, Op. 79. Paniyeva took a bold approach to the turbulent opening notes of the first rhapsody, in B minor, easing into the lyrical repose of the middle section. She invested the calmer second rhapsody, in G minor, with dark and brooding undertones.

Next came Boris Lyatoshynsky’s much less familiar five Preludes, Op. 44, written in his native Ukraine during World War II. Reflecting influences from later Scriabin to Ukrainian folk music, it was easy to hear echoes of her roots in eastern Ukraine and its current war with Russia in Paniyeva’s poignant readings of the tragic first prelude, the radiant second, the restless third, the melancholy fourth, and the hopeful fifth.   

The program closed with an electrifying version of Frederic Chopin’s 1844 Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, one of the Polish master’s most difficult yet rewarding scores. Paniyeva heightened the sharp contrasts among its four movements, with a mercurial “Allegro maestoso” leading into a fleet, headlong “Scherzo,” a ravishing “Largo,” in which time almost stood still, and an alternately tumultuous and triumphant “Presto non tanto” finale.

Paniyeva combines a modest stage presence with playing of absolute clarity, technical security, and interpretive maturity, which has made her a prizewinner in many international competitions and augurs a long career of musical substance and distinction.  

All concerts in this 42-year-old series take place on Sundays at 2:00 pm, and open seating in its acoustically first-rate auditorium begins a half-hour earlier. SWCA will next present cellist Michael Katz and pianist Spencer Myer on March 24, 2024.