Livia Rev, a seasoned pianist, ripened by her 99 years on earth, drew my attention during a You Tube search for performances of Chopin’s Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15. (It was at a time when I was studying and teaching the composition.)
The middle section of this work has a notable turbulent emotional shift that’s reflected in a technically challenging set of forte measures in F minor. They come with punctuated accents, and alternating, broken 6ths, 5ths, alongside larger intervals, etc. These roll over a tremulous bass carrying a melodic line that in conjunction with the relentless treble “accompaniment” above, break the spell of the opening “Nocturnal” tranquillity. (Often performers will race the tempo at this juncture in heightened displays of technical prowess.) And sometimes at break neck speed, the interlude can become a continuous blur with little definition, meaning or musical consequence.
To the contrary, Maestra Lev, in her performance, resisted the temptation to significantly accelerate the parallel minor section, and instead paced it according to her artistic sensibility, still convincingly realizing the mood transition intended! (Unfortunately, this particular Chopin Nocturne video has been removed from Rev’s you tube archives)
Upon reviewing the pianist’s discography, I discovered that many of her performances have been recorded on Naxos and Hyperion labels and can be accessed accordingly.
Into the Present
A Hungarian born pianist, now living in Paris, Rev still teaches piano at high intensity, keeping a repository of technical skills wedded to expressive musicianship that’s shared among her international cadre of students.
In an enviable mentoring example, Livia demonstrates the supple wrist as an ally to beautiful phrasing, (This is a physical/musical hallmark of her approach to the piano)
In the following performance of Czerny studies, Op. 821, the pianist amply puts her ideas into practice in a display of her flexible wrist that often bends beneath the so-called “acceptable” level, inviting critics in pedagogical circles, to decry “the dangerous broken wrist approach.” Nevertheless, Rev’s playing philosophy has worked well for her, and for generations of students who have absorbed her focused concentration and sagacious comments.
REV’s BIO: (WIKI)
Lívia Rév (born July 5, 1916) is a classical concert pianist.
“Rév was born in Budapest, Hungary. She started her studies with Margit Varro and Klara Mathe. Aged nine, she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges. Aged twelve she performed with an orchestra. She studied with Leo Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Professor Robert Teichmüller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten at the Vienna Conservatory, having left Hungary in 1946.
“Rév lives in Paris, with her husband Pierre Aubé.
“She has won the Ferenc Liszt International Record Grand Prix.
“Rév has performed across Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in the United States. She has been the soloist with conductors such as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind.
“Her first US appearance was in 1963 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Institute.
“She is well known for her light touch and clarity. Her recordings vary from complete Debussy Préludes, Chopin Nocturnes, to Mendelssohn Songs without Words.”