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Suyeon Kang - violin, Karolina Errera - viola, Andrei Ioniță - cello, Cătălin Șerban - piano - Music box, January 15, 2024

A disc released on January 12th, 2024, by Naxos Records, titled Melodies infinies - compositions by Enescu and Fauré, recorded by a quartet that includes two Romanians: pianist Cătălin Șerban and cellist Andrei Ioniță, alongside Suyeon Kang on violin and Karolina Errera on viola.

The project brings together two related works, even though they were written nearly 30 years apart: the piano quartets No. 1, composed by Gabriel Fauré and George Enescu. Enescu was a student of Fauré at the Paris Conservatory; they shared the Parisian atmosphere of the late 19th century and early 20th century, where romanticism, impressionism, and features of national schools intertwined, as well as a very elegant and expressive way of conceiving music, stemming from a sincere and authentic experience, furthermore, a way of conceiving the meaning of art as a way of building beauty in the world.

I find it a very good idea by pianist Cătălin Șerban to propose this project, both in terms of the selected repertoire and the musicians he has worked with.

In 1909, George Enescu composed the first part of his Piano Quartet No. 1 in Sinaia; the second and third parts were created in Paris, and the premiere of the work was scheduled for December 1909 in Paris. Enescu was already a young master - we encounter elements deriving from German romanticism, as well as impressionist echoes and rhythmic and melodic elements from Romanian folk music - a deeply personal, inimitable discourse of the enescian style. I appreciated the evident involvement and profound understanding of the text and meaning of this score, coming from the leader of this project, pianist Cătălin Șerban, born in Bucharest, with studies in his hometown, as well as in Berlin and Lubeck, currently a professor at the Lübeck Musikhochschule and the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin. Cătălin Șerban, moreover, is settled in Berlin, like his compatriot, cellist Andrei Ioniță.

Cătălin Șerban is the author of some impactful discographic projects, all of which have a story behind them: Des cloches sonores in 2018, Resemblances in 2022. In the future he plans to publish works by Rachmaninoff - tableau studies and sonata for cello and piano.

On the same album, the first piano quartet written by Gabriel Fauré, the composition teacher of George Enescu at the Paris Conservatory and one of the masters of French music at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Gabriel Fauré wrote during a period when French musicians, especially in the field of instrumental music, were seeking their own, specific voice: the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, lost by the French, accentuated this desire for national specificity, in opposition to the German model. Gabriel Fauré also served the idea of Ars Gallica - which does not mean that the structure and ethos of Brahms's music are not found in his Piano Quartet No. 1, conceived in 1880. However, Fauré manages to imprint the unmistakable atmosphere with a romantic hue of the French atmosphere from the last decades of the 19th century, when Paris was the cultural center of Europe and cultural models came mainly from France. And this elegant nuance, with mysterious and delicate touches, is sketched with poetry by the quartet that recorded this CD.

Cristina Comandașu