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Interview with conductor Cristian Mandeal about pianist Radu Lupu

Tuesday, 3 May 2022 , ora 20.32

The news regarding pianist Radu Lupu's death has put to grief the whole musical world, along with music lovers and musicians. This news was overwhelming for conductor Cristian Mandeal because pianist Radu Lupu was a very good friend of his.

Master Cristian Mandeal, you were very good friends with pianist Radu Lupu - a friendship which bonded itself since adolescence. Then, when you grew up you went together in tournaments, you had a series of concerts in the country and abroad. Radu Lupu was the one who helped you have the first collaboration with the Occident after the '89s Revolution. A musician you basically worshiped. How do you remember the whole history you lived togethernow that your illustrious friend is no longer among us?

For me this news is devastating because with Radu's death, a period of time is set. Radu was a great artist, an unsurpassed musician. His capacity of finding unexplored musical directions, unknown to others was unique. He was my greatest role model. To me, he wasn't just a friend, he was, at the same time, an indirect mentor for what I have also tried to understand and produce within my boundariesin this limitless music universe. However, Radu surpasses everything I have known and heard from a musician. For him the music universe was infinite, an outer space in which he was conveniently, superiorly and understandably placed, I would say, comparing to any other musician I have ever met in my life.

In other words, he is an irreplaceable loss. Even if he didn't play in his last days of life and I knew he was very sick - he had his last concert in 2019, in London; he gave up on his last but one concert which should have taken place at Romanian Youth Orchestra in Paris, with me as a conductor... I knew he was sick, I knew he couldn't return... nevertheless, the loss left me speechless. This human being... I believe fate is cruel taking him from us. This type of people should live forever, no matter how and in what circumstances.

To me, Radu was the light in music, in youth, in my growth as a musician and a friend. We were playing at four hands when we were very young, then we had tens of concerts together in different tournaments in Italy, Japan, Germany, and of course, in Romania. Every meeting with him was a major event for me. Not only I accompanied him and I had the pleasure to be with him again, to find myself with him on a stage, but in all of these there is also a new lesson. If someone in my whole life ''suppressed'' me as a partner, he, Radu Lupu, was the only one who placed me in a timidity zone in our friendship. I consider that I am much inferior to him and I don't deserve to play with him, fact which gave me a sort of inhibition in my own development as a person.

A low profile artist who gave few interviews and couldn't stand recorded music, even if he left a few valuable recordings as legacy. What do you think could describe the musical legacy of Radu Lupu, something for which his name will be forever left in the conscience of the future music lovers and musicians?

I think that everything he consciously left - not only the concerts' works which are also extraordinarily valuable, but the studio recordings he acknowledgedas well... I believe that all of these mean a huge legacy for the future, because he self-censured and selected by himself every sound he eventually fixed on the support. So, everything he left recorded is a legacy for human kind, I would say. Unfortunately, there is not much of this enormous consciousness of every sound's responsibility. He was extremely critic with himself, always unpleased, always indignant with not having everything come out as good as he wished for. However, lost but not least, he signed a final production being only half pleased. A man like this was looking, with good reason, for a sort of ideal toward which we couldn't even aspire. I am grateful that these things had happened and that he eventually signed these sonorous objects which stay for eternity.

Interview by Florica Jalbă
Translated by Mara-Sabina Rolea,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu