Victory at music competitions often goes to the performer who makes the fewest mistakes. Italian pianist Beatrice Rana, who won the Silver Medal at this year’s Van Cliburn Competition, gave an immaculate performance at her local debut Friday night in the Barns at Wolf Trap. There was almost nothing to criticize, but only occasionally did an interpretation compel attention.
Rana used her refined technique to tame the venue’s Yamaha piano, coaxing from it sounds of remarkable delicacy and finesse, especially in detailed inner voicings. Her performances of the two sets of variations by Schumann she played here, recorded at the Cliburn, are being released this month by Harmonia Mundi. In her live rendition of the “Abegg Variations” (Op. 1), the slow variations were even more distracted and moony, the rubato almost excessively free, and the fast ones just as polished and intricate. Her interpretation of the “Symphonic Etudes” (Op. 13), however, did not convince, as it was a little too controlled and cautious. She certainly mastered the work’s technical challenges, but that is not enough.