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Nihil Sine Deo - Pianist Sânziana Mircea's Debut Album - CD Review, the 21st of October

Friday, 21 October 2016 , ora 10.06
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This is the title of young pianist Sânziana Mircea's debut album, one of the most promising talents of the young generation, an artist who is building her career meticulously, passionately, and tenaciously - writes musicologist Liliana Staicu in the album's preface. The album has been released by the Casa Radio Publishing House this year, on the 8th of April, and it has been selected for Radio România Muzical's "Vote for the Classical Music Album of 2016" campaign. Nihil Sine Deo is its title. Is it a daring one? Considering, in this case, that the maxim is engraved on the coat of arms of the Royal House of Romania and never omitted from documents during the period in which our country had been a monarchy. However, I believe that it is rather an invitation to meditate on the idea that "nothing exists without God".

Sânziana Mircea writes in the album's preface: Imagine that everything starts at dawn, when the sunlight fills up the sky with colours like Bach's Chorale, reimagined by Myra Hess, or like when Ave Maria lightens the listener's soul on its usual inner journey. Midday finds us under the torrid sun of Spain, Albeniz leading us towards the port of Cadiz and down the streets of Seville, invaded by the crowds transfigured by happiness, amid the sound of festive bells. In the evening, we step into the realm of Russian tales, which invite us on a promenade through the Tuileries Gardens, the Limoges piazza, or the ruins of the old Italian castle, accompanied by fantastical characters such as the Gnome, or Baba-Yaga. The promenade ends in front of the grandiose gate of Kiev, where, once again, the bells start to chime, marking the end of the journey.

It is a journey that starts with the Divine Bach, the Chorale from Cantata BWV 147 Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring), alongside which stands Ave Maria and another two lieder Auf dem Wasser zu singen (To Sing on the Water), and Du bist die Ruh (You are Peace), from Three Lieder S.558 no. 12, 2, 3 by Franz Schubert. Afterwards, the journey proposed by Sânziana Mircea becomes wholly earthly with Isaac Albeniz's Iberia Suite. This album's apogee is represented by Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" Suite.

A vivacious and sincere performance

About Sânziana Mircea, the musicologist Liliana Staicu adds, also in the album's preface: I followed her evolution and her journeys throughout the world, studying in Köln or London, partaking in masterclasses held by maestros such as Aldo Ciccolini, Pavel Gililov, Dominique Merlet, Peter Donohoe, Pascal Rogé, or holding concerts in London, Tokyo, Budapest, Prague and, often enough, Bucharest. And I appreciated her passion and intelligence, but also her willingness to give herself wholly to this art, to raise one step at a time in her artistic career, heading to the Everest of pianism.

The album is a promising discographic debut. Sânziana Mircea has the skills necessary to become a name in the art of piano playing, she has the tenacity, determination, willingness, and courage to utter interpretative opinions. She has that dose of subjectivity which is necessary in an artist for them to impose their own version. She doesn't have the patience yet to let the phrases reveal to the listener all their subtlety of expression. In a way, it is natural, as the pianist is still at that stage where she wishes to show that she can, that she is capable of venturing out on the most difficult summits of the pianistic repertoire.

The album's programme is demanding from the point of its range of expression. From the Divine Canopy of Bach and Schubert's scores, through the picturesque scenery from Albeniz's Iberia and reaching the palette of colours and emotions found in Mussorgsky's pictures, all of these are a challenge for any artist who's reached the maturity of their artistic expression. In what concerns Sânziana Mircea, she passes this entire challenge with flying colours, but there is some urgency as she goes through, for example, Mussorgsky's picture exhibition. She states a clear opinion about what she "sees", but she doesn't give the one listening to this album too much time to reflect. Personally, I am not bothered by this, because the vivacity and the sincerity with which the pianist plays these pictures becomes infectious and enjoyable.

Consequently, these are the reasons why I invite you to listen to the young pianist Sânziana Mircea, on the 21st of October, at CD Review (12:15).

Gabriel Marica
Translated by Adriana-Cătălina Grigore
MTTLC 1st year, University of Bucharest