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Memorable Evenings with Memorable Artists

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 , ora 10.08
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After the powerful opening with a special evening, in the presence of numerous important guests, the 'Sighișoara Academy' Festival continued in the same tone of value and quality, which also showed in the repertoire - famous opuses alternating with contemporary, sometimes even modern ones - as well as in the quality of the performance of the artists of different generations, living abroad or in Romania, yet equally dedicated to music, which they approach with passion and knowledge.

Thus, the second evening we listened to the 'Arcadia' Quartet once again, and they sound more homogenous by the year, more flexible and more expressive, charming the entire audience with Haydn's or Schubert's creations (the famous quartet Death and the Maiden); to be honest, from the first note, young musicians Ana Torok (first violin), Răsvan Dumitru (second violin), Traian Boală (viola) and Zsolt Torok (cello) played as if they were a single body, the sound of their instruments seemed complementary, their dialogue and harmony were sprouting with impressive naturalness, to richness of colour and expressive elegance that never strayed from the appropriate style and air, without theatricality or the intention of boasting; they showed remarkable refinement of the general line, of the sentence, of the air, thanks to their maturity of experienced musicians, as well as their youthful freshness and their passion for what they do. Because the pleasure to play, to convey moods, feelings, tense or serene emotions to the audience shows in every page they perform. A packed hall - musicians and spectators who were discovering the beauty of chamber music - acclaimed them for a long time, chanting in the signature manner of the Sighișoara people, so the four musicians from Cluj offered an encore, an adaptation of one of Bartok's Romanian Dances, changing the 'register'; their poignant rhythm and the folk marks were conveyed with a certain diffuse sonority and an absolutely charming fineness. Certainly, everyone who attended would have liked to listen to them some more…

The following evening, the Monastery Church hosted a complex, long and captivating programme, with a touch of novelty and sound combinations that were sometimes surprising. Because the first work - Liszt's Rosario - was played at the organ (Johanna Halmen) and French horn, 'handled' by Swiss Christian Holenstein - perhaps I was expecting more fluency and cohesion of speech, which was rather intermittent, though - the soloist chose a composition of his own - Sensus Naturae - written for alpine horn and organ, which sounded like a fairytale (from the Alps), with organ themes, with simple, monochrome lines, with a few little mistakes handled well (as had happened during the rehearsal of the opening evening). But I admired the transposition of a page by Silvestri - Sonata breve - by clarinettist Emil Vișenescu and bassoon player Heidrun Wirth, both of them extraordinary performers, who related impeccably to one another and collaborated in such a way that highlighted the dense, quick- or slow-paced, incredibly expressive writing; it was a version that paid homage to the composer's birth centenary, which Adrian Pop had held a lecture on that same morning. The two artists later played along excellent oboist Doris Mende, in Ibert's Trio, a very difficult and challenging composition, going from whimsical swirls to elegiac poetry or playful rhythm, perhaps verging on the pastoral, and everything was full of light, joy, elegance and impeccable taste; the musicians were just as charming in Mozart's Divertimento, which they tackled with the same cheerfulness and engagement, and their co-ordination was the more important as they had never played together before. Virtuosity was also the key word with the solo scores, with clarinettist Emil Vișenescu proving his technique and refinement in Messiaen's Abîme des oiseaux, a challenging and captivating work due to its barely-there fineness of iridescence, of transparent 'flight', floating somewhere only to rise in smartly dosed gradation, which was to fade away in hardly expressed sound. Another spectacular composition was Isang Yun's Monologue, when bassoon player Heidrun Wirth convinced us that the seemingly heavy instrument can offer splendid sounds, its long notes reminiscent of our Romanian bucium, with signs followed by complicated fulgurations, which needed 'infinite' breathing and gave the impression of light performance that only great artists possess.

A solo played for the first time was Arpad Konczei's Intermezzo, though, written specially for experienced contrabassist Botond Kostyak, inspired by the old contrabass from 19th century folk music bands, with pinching and snapping the strings, with robust rhythms and short slow melodies, as well as references to Oriental music, which showed the soloist's real dexterity in mastering his instrument, which proved us it is easy to play when the soloist is an artist, and not just a technician.

It was an amalgamated evening, when wind instrumentalists took precedence by playing classical and 'state of the art' pages, some well-known and others played for the first time, as well as a variety of styles and colour characteristics that were blended by the special quality of those who were rewarded with enthusiastic applauses at the end.

Some of them returned before the audience the following day, in the City Hall, playing famous opuses in varied formulas, and we were thus able to listen to Doris Mende (oboe) along a string trio, this time - Mioara Moroianu (violin), Vladimir Lakatos (viola), Andrei Ioniță (cello) - in Mozart's KV 370 Quartet, a supple, dazzling one which often left the oboe to the foreground, yet keeping a connection that 'betrayed' the four musicians' skill of playing in an ensemble; I also found the beauty of sound the continually sustained sentencing of the oboe in Schumann's Three Romances, with the piano that Viniciu Moroianu offered delicate colours and lines, thus creating the evocative, sensitive air of a ballad, thanks to simple and charming (once again) melodies.

The renowned pianist also played with Christian Holenstein who tried, at the French horn, to moderate his intensity during the piano moments, and then attempted to solve as accurately as possible the river of sounds at the end, on the impetuous weave of the keys that kept the romantic note required by Schumann's Adagio and Allegro op. 70. Viniciu Moroianu and Christian Holenstein also played the ample Trio op. 40 by Brahms together, along violinist Mioara Moroianu, with the latter tending to cover his partners' approach, who also had a few pages without the French horn's contribution, luckily, thus highlighting the elegiac, introspective or grave sound they made shin during the slow sequence; the end saw them truly letting loose while staying compact, a balanced performance of the three musicians, finally, which aroused the audience's enthusiasm, with their insistence determining them to play the last part once again, much to our delight and, probably, to theirs, despite their considerable effort in a classical-romantic programme that offered them the well-deserved gratitude and congratulations of everyone.

Anca Florea
Translated by Irina Borțoi and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest