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The 'Ionel Perlea' Festival and National Competition of Lied Interpretation, the XXI Edition

Monday, 7 May 2012 , ora 9.20
They say that every miracle lasts three days. If the quote can be applied to a festival dedicated to the lied, then probably this year's edition of the 'Ionel Perlea' Festival and National Competition from Slobozia was, for the vocal-instrumental music world, a miracle. Having reached its twenty first edition, the competition - dedicated to young talents - took place between 4th and 6th May, and was organized by the 'Ionel Perlea' UNESCO Cultural Centre in Slobozia and the 'Mihail Jora' Union of Music Critics, Editors and Music Directors in Bucharest. This time, the repertoire imposed to the competitors included two lieder composed by Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea with verses by Nicolae Coman, titled 'Intomnare-n lied' (Turning to Autumn in Lied) and 'Toamna' (Autumn).

Lieder by Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea

The composer, Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea listed a few characteristics of her works: These lieders are composed on verses by composer and poet Nicolae Coman, another extraordinary lieder composer. The nature of the verses led me to a diversified musical world. The first poem 'Autumn' resembles Eminescu's work and I tried to make the music express the delicacy of the feelings and the images described by words. On the other hand, the second work, 'Turning to Autumn in Lied', is based on modern verse, with a more special structure, which led me towards a language with expressionist accents. I hope the performers did not protest too much, because the pieces were indeed a challenge for them.


This year, the competition for the Grand Award was between the 'Gheorghe Dima' Musical Academy from Cluj-Napoca and National University of Music Bucharest. There were eleven contestants, between 4th and 6th May, performing in front of the jury presided by PhD professor Grigore Constantinescu, president of the 'Mihail Jora' Union of Music Critics and composed of other personalities, among others, sopranos Maria Slatinaru Nistor, Bianca Manoleanu, Silvia Sorina Munteanu, tenor Ionel Voineag and pianist Verona Maier. During the closing gala that took place on 6th May, special prizes were awarded, the podium being comprised of baritone Ioan Ovidiu Stan - Third Prize, baritone Adrian Prelucan - Second Prize, soprano Diana Florea - First Prize, the Grand Award being given, ex aequo, to tenor Stefan Korch from the Musical Academy from Cluj-Napoca and soprano Adelina Diaconu from the National University of Music Bucharest.

Winner's statements

What does this award signify for the career of a young musician?

Adelina Diaconu: It is a very important step and I am very happy about it, I did not expect to win. The contest was difficult because I had competition. I believe that in the interpretation of the lied is it very important the communication between the voice and the background, the way the piano can back the soloist up. I found Stefan Korch very talented and the interpretation he had of Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea's lied was something special.

Tenor Stefan Korch, the winner of the Grand Award, revealed how the competition was like for the competitors: This was the second competition I entered, I was, of course, nervous, any artist is nervous, but I managed to handle myself and apparently my efforts were appreciated by the jury. There were some very good voices in the competition; we have valuable young performers in our country. Regarding Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea's lied I must confess upon first seeing it I got scared. But as I started studying it I grew accustomed to it and I tried to perform it to the best of my abilities. Only two of us sang 'Turning to Autumn in Lied' - maybe this also influenced the jury's choice. Winning this award means the beginning of a road where I realize how much work I have before me.

Remarkable moments

If tenor Stefan Korch made an impression with the easiness with which he intertwined the technical solutions and the diverse vocal nuances in his interpretation, soprano Adelina Diaconu was more convincing stage wise - her pantomime and her gestures, blown to extremes at some moments, were probably the ones that convinced the jury. The competition represented an important part of this year's edition of the 'Perlea' Festival, the recitals on the posters being as generous. The Tiberiu Brediceanu moment - performed by soprano Nicoleta Colceiar and pianist Angela Balici, the one dedicated to the death centenary of Jules Massenet - performed by soprano Silvia Sorina Munteanu together with pianist Ioana Maxim, the cycle 'Dragoste de poet' (A Poet's Love) by Schumann - with tenor Tiberius Simu and pianist Silvia Sbarciu, but also the lieder series composed by Beethoven, Schubert and Wolf on the verses of Goethe's poem Mignon - and performed by mezzo-soprano Ana Russu and pianist Iulia Suciu - were among the nice surprises of this edition. Also in the program, with an early music recital were the mezzo-soprano Claudia Codreanu and Costin Soare playing the lute, the 'Sfantul Mare Mucenic Mina' choir members of the Slobozia Archpriestship - with a concert of religious music that was held at the 'Sfintii Voievozi' Monastery. The winner of last year's edition, baritone Catalin Soropoc, also held a recital.

We cannot overlook the recital of lieder composed on verses by the Ialomita born poet, Ilie Comanita, by Romanian composers and performed by soprano Bianca Manoleanu and pianist Remus Manoleanu - where elements drawn from traditional folklore intertwined with modern accents. And in the closing of the Festival, Ion Bogdan Stefanescu performed on his Muramatsu golden flute, accompanied by Verona Maier at the piano, works created entirely by Franz Schubert: a series of the composer's most well-known lieder, complemented with a moment from the Arpeggione Sonata - all transcribed for flute and piano. Still under the influence of this recital, the audience certainly agreed with the flute-player, who was convinced that the sound of his instrument most resembles the beauty of human voice.


A conclusion for the 'Ionel Perlea' National Festival, as seen by musicologist Grigore Constantinescu, president of the 'Mihail Jora' Union of Music Critics: 'I believe that this festival, that was launched twenty one years ago, gained in credibility, in cohesion and in quality, meaning that its main idea is starting to materialize, to be increasingly particular, even in the context of Romanian music life, and then because of the attendance - of the contestants in the competition and of the jury members in the recitals - is truly a quality participation. For the contestants it meant in many cases a starting point, and for the maestros, a confirmation of their own pursuits. The concept of the jury performing in front of the contestants and the contestants in front of the jury is not a usual one, and so, having it at this festival is a confirmation of our progress and our forward thinking of this type that we want to maintain in the public's eye. We have always taken an interest in the yearly launching of pieces composed by Romanian composers - the idea was confirmed during this edition and we celebrated, on the centenary of his death, the composer Jules Massenet. All this gather into a group of ideas that can transform the starting point of a festival into an event of national artistic life.'

Alexandra Cebuc
Translated by Florina Sămulescu
MTTLC, Bucharest University