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Reviews on Sarah Chang & Andrew von Oeyen’s Recital

Sunday, 14 February 2010 , ora 13.45
On February 14th 2010 the American violinist Sarah Chang and the American pianist Andrew von Oeyen held a recital at the Romanian Athenaeum, opening the Culture Crusade Campaign, initiated by the Dream Agency.

‘The battle of the violin’, the name of the recital, turned as far as I am concerned into a ‘rediscovery of beauty’ because Sarah Chang could rather be one of the muses that indulged the gods of Olympus with their songs than a crusade knight, be it even in the name of culture.

It all started tumultuously, almost volcanically, with two works by Brahms – the Scherzo from Frei Aber Einsam Sonata and Sonata No. 3 Op. 108 in D minor. The first prejudice I had to let go of was that concerning the Asian nature, the detached and introverted spirits, the smooth drifts. I was expecting Sarah Chang to have preserved the culture of her Korean ancestors in her genes, although she was born on the American continent. But instead of this inaccurate portrait, I discovered an artist full of life and tumult, in a continuous search of the romantic drama. That is how Sarah Chang revealed Brahms to us, not as a classic among romantics, but rather as a romantic spirit in a coherent and connected structure that seemed to break the water gates of expression. A narrative Brahms, almost ballad-like in its slow movements, perhaps a little monochrome, yet forceful and dramatic.

I imagined I was going to listen to a recital of Sarah Chang, the superstar, accompanied by a pianist! That was another prejudice I had to let go of because the powerful and distinguished presence, the musical comments and the expression of the American Andrew von Oeyen contradicted me from beginning to the end. And I was glad it happened. Naturally, it was a recital with violin, as well as with piano – filigreed endings, embroidery of the violin counterpoint, colourful brocades or softly dissolved in the appropriate stylish parameters, proved the special talent of Andrew von Oeyen and defined him as the perfect candidate for a solo concert in a future Enescu Festival.

The climax of the evening was just after the American composer Christopher Theofanidis’s Fantasy was played in its first Romanian audition and materialized in the score of César Franck’s Sonata. It was a successful performance, well tuned and preserving the dégradé of the French repertoire, as well as with youthful joy, impetuosity and a sensible approach of the sound.

Time went by quickly with Sarah Chang and Andrew von Oeyen. They came later, but left rather soon. What we have got are the autographs, a love message for the Romanian audience in Edward Elgar’s Salut d’amour, the encore which came as an answer to the prolonged applause. And the hope they will come back soon.

Monica Isãcescu

First Victory of the ‘Culture Crusade’

I like to think the words ‘Culture Crusade’ were first heard during an interview with Tudor Chirilã in November 2009 for the Universe of Music programme on Radio Romania Music.

At the time, we were still discussing an eventual recital in Romania of Sarah Chang’s. On February 14th 2010 the first ‘battle’ of the ‘Culture Crusade’ was over: an extraordinary evening at the Romanian Athenaeum with violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Andrew von Oeyen.

Dressed in a wonderful golden dress, Sarah Chang, who at 29 is the one of the most renowned violinist of our times, stepped on the stage of the Romanian Athenaeum. The first two works, Johannes Brahms’s Scherzo of his FAE Sonata and Sonata No.3 Op.108 were performed with tumult and great accent yet without exaggeration on the romantic parts of the two scores.

After the break she wore another dress, a fire red one this time and played a work in first Romanian audition: Christopher Theofanidis’s Fantasy, namely the transcription for violin and piano of a Violin and Orchestra Concerto composed by the American 42-year-old especially for Sarah Chang. The work of Christopher Theofanidis’s, one of the most successful classic composers in the United States proves that the film score’s ethos is always popular among our contemporaries, as the time of dissonance for the sake of intellectual artifice is long gone.

The last work of the performance, the famous César Franck’s Sonata in A major, was the revelation of the evening. I think I will forever remember the extraordinary performance of the slow part – everyone in the concert hall was definitely carried away to another world, as they also cheered them to the echo. Of course, an encore was expected: Edward Elgar’s Salut d’amour, a work in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, as Andrew von Oeyen himself recommended it.

After this first recital of the ‘Culture Crusade’ series ‘fought’ by Tudor Chirilã’s Dream Agency Project, anyone can sum up a few things: we have a market for the Romanian classical music, people who want and can afford to pay for a rather expensive ticket to a high-class event. Therefore, there is room for other distinguished classical music concerts in Romania and not only during the Enescu Festival.
We have people who believe in Good and in Beauty and are ready to invest time, energy and money to make the others, too believe in them rather than wait for the government to do something. We communicate efficiently and organize thoroughly and that can generate great events in classical music, events that more and more Romanians seem to be attracted to. And perhaps most important, in the audience on February 14th 2010 at the Romanian Athenaeum there were young people, not the snobbish who would have rather assisted to a fashionable event, but youngsters who wanted to listen to classical music because they enjoy it and feel the need to do so.

Congratulations for the performers, the organizers and the public!

Cristina Comandaºu

Translated by Georgiana Mîndru, Andreea Velicu
MA students, MTTLC, Bucharest University