Friday, 16 May 2014

Romanian adventure

Alexandra Dariescu - credit London Studios
Alexandra Dariescu - credit London Studios
London-based Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu joined forces with the Romanian violinist Alexandru Tomescu for a recital exploring music by Romanian composers for violin and piano. The two played together for the first time at a recital on 14 May 2014 at the Romanian Cultural Insitute, and we heard them at a private recital on 15 May 2014. 

Alexandru Tomescu
Alexandru Tomescu
In the first half each instrumentalist played some solo items, with Tomescu performing a group of Pagannini's Caprices, and Dariescu performing some of Chopin's Preludes op. 28, and Constantin Silverstri's Bacchanale. Then in the second half we heard Dinu Lipatti's Sonatina for violin and piano, Tiberiu Olah's Sonatina for violin and piano and Bela Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances

Paganini's Caprices for solo violin are outrageous works, challenging the violinist's technique and musicality. Tomescu performed them with confidence, technical expertise, elan and not a little showmanship. He played them from memory, and introduced each one. His selection finished, of course, with the best known of them; the final Caprice, the variations on La Follia.

Also playing from memory, Dariescu brought out both the passion and poetry in her selection of Chopin's Preludes, in a performance which made you wish that there had been time to hear her playing all twenty four. Constantin Silvestri (1913 - 1969) is best known in the UK as the chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In his Bacchanale we were promised fireworks, and these were certainly got as Silvestri combined 20th sensibility with orgiastic abandon.

The Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti (1917 - 1950) is not well known for his compositions but his Sonatina for violin and piano is one of a small group of works which he wrote. In three movements, a dramatic opening Allegro moderato led to a lyrical Andantino which developed into a series of variations with the final variation forming the last movement. There were clear folk influences in the work, but also a certain neo-classical sensibility and in one of the variations, hints of blues.

Tiberiu Olah (1928 - 2002) taught at the Conservatoire in Bucharest. Like the Lipatti, his work is described as a Sonatina, but there was nothing small-scale about the piece. A highly dramatic work in which folk elements were worked together in a highly 20th century sensibility. Both were certainly works which deserve wider currency.

Tiberiu and Dariescu finished with Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances. Though Hungarian, Bartok was born in an area which is now in Romania, and his suite for violin and piano presents a series of folk dances from Romania, which Tomescu and Dariescu performed in a highly involving and strongly dramatic manner, bringing our exploration of Romanian music to a stirring conclusion.

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