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Violinist Valentin Șerban and piano player Daria Tudor, the week’s guests at Perpetuum mobile, in a dialogue with Gabriela Marica

Monday, 13 February 2023 , ora 11.09

I have two guests tonight, piano player Daria Tudor here! Good evening!

Daria Tudor: Good evening and thank you for having us!

...and violinist Valentin Șerban. Welcome!

Valentin Șerban: Good evening! It's good to be here.

The week ends here, at Sala Radio, with an event dedicated to all music lovers out there, dedicated to the expressed love, most naturally perhaps, through music. And you two are the protagonists - Daria Tudor and Valentin Șerban.

First of all I want to ask you if this 'Violin in Love' recital has been designed in order to suit the incoming period marked by these traditional Love Holidays- I'm talking here about Valentine's Day, Dragobete, the 1st and 8th or March?

Valentin Șerban: No, it wasn't, but it is a succesful coincidence.

As far as I'm concerned, your recital should have been entirely dedicated to that amorous, enigmatic trio of the 19th century- Clara (Schumann), Robert (Schumann) and Johannes (Brahms). What happened?

Daria Tudor: The programm for a live concert without a break would have been a bit too long.

And who was the guilty one? Clara, Robert or Johannes?

Daria Tudor: It was Johannes. And I think Johannes would have been guilty in the amorous trio as well, which is why we decided to give up on him this time. Now, until Sunday we'll see if we give up on him completely or not. But we have chosen one of Beethoven's sonatas and in my opinion it's just as suitable as if it was Brahms's. Well, I mean in other respects. But it's an unique work which deserves to be listened to. It is one of Beethoven's early sonatas, I think the first one for violin and piano. It was well received in its time and it's a work which somehow, even if short, speaking of lenght, in comparison to his subsequent sonatas, contains almost everything that Beethoven was going to be- with a childish fragility, somehow naive in its second part, but also with Beethoven's famous force which we know from his next works. From my perspective it is a sonata which envisages maybe Kreutzer Sonata (Violin Sonata No. 9). This one has them all and I think it deserves to be listened to, a work which will open up Sunday's programm very nicely.

And who posed a problem- Clara, Robert or Ludwig?

Valentin Șerban: It was for sure all of them. If we are to talk about Robert Schumann, his sonata being so...maybe more like massive, lasting 30-35 minutes... contains allof the opposite: excessive lyricism and also a virtuosity that is sometimes overwhelming. So, yes, in terms of endurance and musicality, Schumann's Sonata No.2 in G Minor was a challenge. Representing the classical style, Beethoven is naturally sensitive and sometimes hard to adress. Actually, adressing him it's harder for me, but it's more natural for Daria I think. The classics and I are not really friends, but I'm trying! We all have a different temper. And Romantic pieces which are somehow original, are rarely performed and I think it's fascinating to discover all the influence Robert Schumann had on Clara and of course, the influence that others had on her too. You see Brahms, Schubert and it's very...very complex and furthermore draining for the piano, even though they are 'just Romantic pieces'.

Daria Tudor: It really was surprising to me to see how many problems did Clara Schumann's Romantic pieces posed. Indeed, I am closer to Beethoven, closer than people may think, but this doesn't mean that this sonata is piece of cake. Instead, Schumann's sonata is draining, intricate, the musical passages including virtuosity have nothing to do with what we know from Liszt and Paganini. They raise another problems and the solutions to those problems are totally different. The search for these solutions takes time and a lot of energy. And I personally believe that I've underestimated the Romantic musical pieces and I am surpised by them, although I hope that they are not going to surpise me on Sunday.

We have to tell our listeners that your recital is part of the '
'The Heirs of Musical Romania' project, organized by Radio România Muzical in collaboration with Rotary Club Pipera and Artexim. Is this your first official collab?

Valentin Șerban: Fortunately yes.

And why is that? I
'm thinking because of the distance- Daria is in Germany and Valentin in Romania.

Valentin Șerban: It is for sure an impediment. Yes, it was an opportunity. For a long time I've wanted to perform with her.

Daria Tudor: And I wanted the same.

Valentin Șerban: What else can you say now? It is a great opportunity. I'm really glad. I do feel good when I perform with her and we've only been performing for three days. I suppose that time would only increase this feeling...I forgot what the question was (laughing).

Daria Tudor: Why is this the first collab? Why didn't you come and perform with me earlier?

Valentin Șerban: Well, what matters is that this isn't the last one. This is the most important thing.

Daria Tudor:Well, that's good.

Daria, you've been performing as part of the 'The Heirs of Musical Romania' project together with cellist Andrei Ioniță;
in winter you've been performing with violinist Ioana Cristina Goicea and Andrei Ioniță. What are your impressions after these recitals?

Daria Tudor: I wished to come back again, so I did it. I'm really glad for this project and actually for all of the projects that enable young artists to perform on big concert halls. These projects have taught me how does the concert world of the soloist looks like in general and what the preparations are for a concert to be performed on such a huge concert hall, what the preparations for the media consists of. All of these things are extremely important for all young artists and for that I am grateful- I was grateful in the beginning and I still am to everything that this project, ' 'The Heirs of Musical Romania' represents and to everyone supporting it.

A day before your recital from Sala Radio, on the 11th of February, you'll also have another recital with cellist Andrei Ioniță, precisely at Timișoara. There you'll be performing Beethoven, Schumann and Shostakovich, these are two completely different repertoires. How do you prepare yourself in situations like these? How do you focus for each of these events?

Daria Tudor: I'm not really thinking on it, I didn't make any plans so, the way in which happen the days to look, so does my programm. Of course, the pieces are already studied, learned and I'm always excited to perform them. I do have moments in which I feel overwhelmed and I do have moments when I feel extremely confident. That's how things are, it's only natural. I think that the stress is actually created by the travelling and things, factors which don't have anything to do with the music, for I'm glad for both of the events and both of the programms are to my liking.

Valentin Șerban, I think that it is your first time being part of the
''The Heirs of Musical Romania' Project, but you're no stranger to Sala Radio. I'm only thinking about the last October's season opening with Radio Romania Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Cristian Mandeal. You had performed Beethoven's D Major, right? How did the audience from here seemed like?

Valentin Șerban: I was fortunate enough and I did appreciate it a lot that I had full halls at Sala Radio. Last year I had two concerts, Bruch's 'Scottish Fantasy' along with The National Radio Orchestra in the winter, and Beethoven in the season's opening with Radio Romania Chamber Orchestra. And the audience- warm, and of course I'm happy to see as few empty seats as possible. We all wish for that. And I'm really glad that I have the chance to come here with a chamber repertoire too.

It is different, just as Daria said, an extremely good initiative in many respects, including the fact that it promotes chamber music. I think that in Romania, the chamber music is underestimated, but in any way, it's not in trend. And every action taken in this direction is welcome.

Valentin, I know that you don't like competitions and yet you're the winner of George Enescu International Competition. What did you gain from this success?

Valentin Șerban: Everything. I don't enjoy competitions, although I don't know who does. In general, I think that this thought of competing offers one an avertion towards it. For me, this competiton meant everything. It started my career! I didn't have concerts before and if I did it were few, although I had two at the Radio. But I didn't have activity at all, although I was doing my best, all the while being ignored with flying colors. So, now I'm enjoying all of these advantages: the image, the concerts, the beautiful project just like this one with Daria and it seems to me that it will continue that way and I wish it to be that way.

Anyway, with a finale in which you interpreted Sibelius, I was really impressed...in a 'all or nothing' way, with sacrifices made, I think that you deserve a front-row seat. Daria, you have also been a semi-finalist at the last George Enescu International Competetion. Are you thinking of participating again?

Daria Tudor: It's hard for me to answer. It's not part of my plans, but I can't guarantee that it won't happen. I have to admit that I don't like competitions either, but I do like the preparation for the competition. This thing motivates me and I know that I'm becoming better and better when I have a target in mind, like a competition. But this doesn't mean it's the only thing motivating me. Even this semi-finale meant a lot for me and the fact that, as a piano player, you're on the Romanian Athenaeum's stage in a recital, it's really hard. It's not an easy accesible hall, and the George Enescu International Competiton offers you that opportunity. It really was an immense pleasure for me to be able to perform on the Athenaeum's stage and further, the results depend more or less on me, maybe they depend on others. From that point of view, I would participate again, but there are still some months until then...

You still have time to consider. What is your programm after the recital on Sunday? What are you planning to do? Where can people see you?

Valentin Șerban: I have some weeks off. The next concert will be with Filarmonica de Stat Arad, at the beginning of March. Until then...studying, some free time, puzzle and cats.

Oh, yes, I've seen on your Facebook page that you have some funny cats! Where do you feel more comfortable, in a concert with the orchestra or in an intimate group, like the chamber orchestra?

Valentin Șerban: They are very different, but it really depends on the people you're collaborating with. It can be amazing to be with the orchestra, but it can also be disappointing. The same is valid when talking about a small group. The feelings that you're experiencing are very different. You can of course see that it comes to the intimacy when it's a recital for two, a trio or a quartet, but there are various experiences that I want to have. It's the same with performing with an orchestra. I want to connect them because they complement each other and you don't have access to them unless participating directly.

Daria Tudor: For me, February also means that I have to travel to Denmark for a chamber music concert and a mini-masterclass consisting of chamber music. After that, starting from March, I hope that a lot of projects which are now just at the concept stage to materialize. One of these project is a CD with themed lieds, which should be completed in the summer with another disc at SDR. As for the rest, I hope they will appear when they are all materialized because there are many ideas that I enjoy, but I don't want to spill the beans before I am 100% sure.

And I don't want to get over the question I asked Valentin… What do you prefer, chamber music or being there, in front of the orchestra...what do you enjoy better?

Daria Tudor: From my experience I would say chamber music, but that depends greatly on the people you share the stage with and make music with. So far, I've been lucky, so I'm going to say chamber music, but recently I've rediscovered my desire to perform solo and create chamber music when I'm with myself. Maybe in the near future I will come back to it.

And for me, playing with the orchestra feels like home. I didn't have this opportunity recently - I had it one year ago - and this is how I started, at 9 years old, here on the stage of Sala Radio and it somehow combines both.

You are a soloist and behind you there are people with whom you make music. So, that's what remains with me, just as the piano is the king of all instruments, so is performing with the orchestra for me. But, of course, the experience, the CV and activity now saychamber music.

Valentin, are you planing on recording a CD too? Daria already has one that was released here, at Casa Radio, together with Andrei Ioniță and Ioana Cristina Goicea, a Beethoven CD. Are you preparing for an album?

Valentin Șerban : Yes. Our secret is exactly the idea with which the interview began - why Beethoven and not Brahms? We actually want this triangle to appear printed.

And the imprintings are done here, at the Radio. Do you think that your CD would also be released from here?

Valentin Șerban: Yes, at Casa Radio.

Well that's an open secret! Finally, I would like you to invite our listeners of Radio Romania Muzical to your recital on Sunday.

Valentin Șerban:You should definately come! We've tried to promote the concert as much as we could. I think that, firstly, it's a Sunday, it's free, Valentine's Day is coming and we have a very complex and diverse repertoire, not adressed very ofter. So, whoever should come to listen, would have something to gain.

I want to thank you, wish you luck for Sunday and with everything that you would do from now on. I hope to see you again at Radio România Muzical, to delight on your succes!

Interview by Gabriel Marica
Translated by Georgiana Morozii,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu