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Interview with pianist Raluca Știrbăț

Monday, 20 March 2023 , ora 11.05

From the 22nd of March 2023, at 19.00, Radio România Muzical will be available in Iasi on 95.4 FM. To celebrate the launch of the new frequency, Radio România Muzical has prepared, together with the main musical institutions in Iasi, a festival including two recitals, a concert and an opera performance. All the events will be broadcast live on Radio România Muzical. The debut will belong to the pianist Raluca Știrbăț from Iasi, who will give a recital entitled "From Vienna to Iași", which will take place at the Balș House in Iasi.

More details from pianist Raluca Știrbăț:

I'm glad to be back, this time in the context of the 26th anniversary of Radio România Muzical and, especially, of the debut of our station on a new frequency, so that people from Iași will be able to listen to us on FM, not only online. A year ago, we were reminiscing with you about some moments that marked your relationship with Radio România Muzical and you shared with us your impressions about this new FM frequency. Now it's time for the launch, and your debut is a recital that you will present next Wednesday at Casa Balș.

First of all, looking back, how would you describe your relationship with our radio station?

I am very happy, very excited and very honoured because the first musical sounds that will be spread in the air with the RRM broadcast in Iași will be, not mine, but Mozart's Fantasy in D minor, because that is how the recital will begin.

The years go by very quickly. It was a very beautiful relationship. Radio România Muzical was often there for me, not only when it was good, but also when it was a bit harder. I am thinking here of the campaign to save and restore Enescu's house in Mihăileni. Your radio station was the first to react and then consistently followed this campaign. And, of course, all my more important appearances in Bucharest, when I had the joy of presenting lesser-known pieces to the public... and here I am thinking primarily of masterpieces of Romanian creation - Bentoiu's Piano Concerto, or Paul Constantinescu, or Silvestri's Sonata for cello and piano that I discovered in Vienna. There were many beautiful moments.

From Vienna to Iași
is the title of the recital you have planned for this radio debut in Iași next Wednesday. I know that the composition of the programme has a beautiful story behind it. What is it about?

It has several stories behind it, if I may say so. Together with Mrs. Cristina Comandașu we have thought of a very special programme for this occasion, but at the same time a programme that is very well and naturally linked.

Many people forget, or some don't even know, how important Iași was in the cultural and musical life of the Romanian Principalities. I say it with pride, it was here that practically the first musical institutions were founded, and I am thinking here of several personalities among whom I would mention Elena Asachi, Gheorghe Asachi's wife. How many people know that Elena Asachi was, in fact, the Austrian Eleonore Teyber, daughter of the famous concert master Teyber from Vienna?! She is the one who gave, practically, the impulse to concert music life in Iasi.

Moreover, our concert takes place in Casa Balș, in the house of the nobleman Alecu Balș, one of the premises of the "George Enescu" National University of Iași, the former salon where Franz Liszt played the famous concerts of his tour in the Romanian Principalities. And... and according to that we have chosen some pieces that have a very interesting story. The audience will discover many new things. The audience in the hall, which we hope will be large, but it will not be physically very large because the hall is not very big, instead, the music lovers who will listen from all over the country and of course from Iasi, will discover many beautiful things.

You are based in Vienna, but you frequently return to Iași, where you have recently established an even closer relationship with your hometown by working at the "George Enescu" University of Arts. What's it like to play at home and especially in this festive context?

I've said it many times before. Playing at home is the most beautiful and the hardest, because the responsibility is so big, the emotions are high. The music-loving public knows me from my first appearances, from my childhood, and I at least try to do my best and come up with something new, something interesting, even when I sing a Mozart Fantasy in D minor, which, unfortunately, I have the impression is sung less and less.

It's a close connection I have with Iași. I come a bit more often. It's a sort of shuttle from Vienna to Iași. I have the joy and the honour of teaching at the Conservatory in Iasi and helping and inspiring young pianists to whom I think I can give a new breath, share my knowledge and experience, because this is a complicated job, it is a long-lasting one and they need a lot of support.

In the period that has passed since you heard the news that we will be broadcasting on FM in Iasi, what reactions have you noticed among Iasi music lovers, whether they are professional musicians or just music lovers?

People were very happy, and I must say here that first of all those who are past their prime, who may not always be familiar with the internet or may not feel at ease, but not only. It's very nice and very convenient to simply listen to the radio in the car. I don't drive, but I have many acquaintances, many friends in Vienna whose car radio is stuck on radio klassik Stephansdom - Austria's classical music station, and they really enjoyed it. It's a great thing that it happens. Admittedly a bit late, but still good that it's happening now.

In this regard, I invite you to make a recommendation or an invitation to listeners from the city of Leiria to listen to Radio România Muzical from March 22nd.

I invite them to tune in to Radio România Muzical because there are beautiful programmes, consistent programmes, with extremely varied music, not only classical, but also jazz and many other musical genres. We are talking about extremely well-trained music editors. So the music lover gets consistent, substantial, interesting introductions to the music being played and to the performers. So it's a great win-win for everyone.

Finally, I cannot fail to mention that you have been involved, as you have already said, in the restoration of George Enescu's house in Mihăileni. You inaugurated a musical season there - Concerts on the Siret, and you also ran master classes, but you also published a book on Enescu's piano works. Do you have any news about future similar projects?

Projects exist. I am a bit superstitious and prefer to talk about them when they are at a more advanced stage and I look forward to coming back with new details.

Since you mentioned Enescu, I could mention here my participation in the Enescu Festival, on 24 September, together with the French violinist David Grimal, where we will play together the 3rd Sonata in a Romanian folk character; I will also play the solo - Enescu's Nocturne, which is a monumental piece that I would love to hear more and more often performed by Romanian pianists. We will play Franck's Sonata; David will also play Ysaye's Sonata, dedicated to Enescu.

Photo credit
: Cringuta Pinzaru

Interview by Florica Jalbă
Translated by Andreea Iulia Ciucă,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu