The Bucharest intelligentsia used to imagine they lived in an outer suburb of Paris, so aspirational was French influence in their Latinate corner of Europe. In this bilateral recital, an exceptional Romanian pianist performs delicate Gallic sets by César Franck and Claude Debussy before applying heavy French polish, with a dash of added fire, to her own national heroes.
Stirbat plays Enescu's pieces with the greatest empathy
The Pièces Impromptues by George Enescu were written in 1916 and lost for many years. The composer searched for them frantically in 1946, the last summer he spent in his homeland before escaping into French exile. Wondrously melodic, they ripple with mutually antagonistic rhythms and underlying tensions, possibly a reflection of his inner turmoil. Enescu stands head and shoulders in influence above all Romanian composers. Stirbat, who recently campaigned to save his childhood home from demolition, plays his pieces with the greatest empathy.
The composer Mihail Jora was found dying by Enescu in a military hospital during the First World War and literally played back to life by his mentor. His suite Joujoux pour Ma Dame (1925) has something of Debussy’s childhood pieces about it. Finally, Stirbat gives us Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, a masterwork of musical anthropology played with limitless zest in a truly refreshing album.
Artist: Raluca Stirbat (piano)
Norman Lebrecht is a prolific commentator on music and cultural affairs and an award-winning novelist. See his blog Slipped Disc.