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Le Monde de la Musique
Vieru the elect
Andreï Vieru belongs to a very exclusive circle: that of the great pianists. His most recent disc, demanding in its beauty, and a few rare concerts which are events for those who attend them, testify to a talent that many of his more famous colleagues might envy him.
A Philosopher at the keyboard
Vieru is that Romanian pianist who made us realise, as soon as he arrived in Paris, that we would have to take notice of him. With a man whose implied message, on a recital platform, may be summed up as: �Don�t take any notice of me, pretend I�m not here.�
Vieru constructed the larger part of his recital as a succession of instants, of patterns graded from the simplest to the most complicated, whose stereotyped formulas he is capable of making his own through a counterpoint cleverly teased out in the inner voices, an oddly placed accent, a highly personal elocution that leaves the sound in abeyance and refuses to declaim. Even the Herculean concluding fugue in the Brahms was delivered undemonstratively. One thinks of the detached dialogue of Godard�s films� it is uttered, it may overwhelm, but it is never heavy. One also thinks, naturally, of Keith Jarrett and his refusal to �interpret� Bach or Bartók. Interpretation and power: Vieru is a philosopher at the keyboard.
In the Sonata op.110, Vieru behaved almost like a �normal� interpreter. The tone became (involuntarily?) more theatrical. But a Bach chorale transcribed for piano by Busoni closed the recital: recto tono, timeless.
Le Quotidien de Paris
The discovery of a truly great pianist is a stimulating event. Trained in the Soviet school and the Romanian school, which gave us, notably, Haskil, Lipatti, and Lupu . . . he has just had an enormous impact on those listeners who were curious enough to go to his recital at the Salle Gaveau. Vieru belongs to the most interesting species of musicians, those for whom the instrument is not an end in itself but a possibility of expression. His playing is flawless. Indeed, one does not even think of it while listening to him, for one is caught up in the interpretation itself. He makes his fingers do whatever he wants, moulds the sound according to the musical structures he elaborates, the styles he tackles, and here he succeeded in conferring unexpected unity on a very diverse programme.
Bach�s Partita no.6 was handled with astounding taste and intelligence; everything was beautiful, subtle, balanced, novel, convincing. With sobriety, each phrase, each development was modulated, accentuated, in a discourse that held the audience every single instant, with the most absolute naturalness. The same instinct and the same analytical skill were evident in Prokofiev�s Sarcasms, naturally in more brilliant colours. And then came the delicate miracle of the Variations op.27 of Webern, before we were plunged into Schubert�s Sonata in A major, prodigious in its penetration, its finesse, its presence, its truthfulness. One thinks, of course, of the concentration of a less austere Lupu, of the matchless touch of a Lipatti, here cast in a different light.
If our concert promoters and record company executives do not give us an opportunity to hear him again very quickly, they will be seriously failing in their task.
Transparency of thought
Around him, silence fell at once, a great void was created. (...)Vieru did not deviate from a simplicity that occurs only in very old pianists, those who no longer play for the sake of risk but out of necessity, with great humility.
Technically, he is a magnificent pianist, but that is not what matters, fortunately. He did not disturb the beauty of the Goldberg Variations with any oratorical gesture, any �aloofness�. He fitted all the voices into an extremely narrow range of dynamics, always on the verge of silence, caressing the form rather than forcefully underlining it. We do not know how the emotion was born.
(. . .) Thus it was a virtually unprecedented Liszt Sonata that sprang from Vieru�s fingers, with its architecture under complete control.
Le Monde de la Musique
His playing incontestably achieves naturalness, immaterial gentleness, fatalism in the lyrical episodes and lightning contrasts.
A Romanian Musical Adventure
The first London festival of Romanian composers
(Excerpts from the festival�s reviews
Anatol Vieru has a reputation as a progressive musical voice in Romania and much of his work has attracted a strong following on the Continent. The Clarinet Quintet, at first might appear akin to a suite by being cast in four rather descriptively titled movements � Nocturne, Burlesque, Serenade and Humoresque. However there is much in it that points towards a goal only achieved in later works in terms of structure, tone or compositional technique.
In this sense Vieru may be said to have been writing ahead of himself, let alone many of his contemporaries.Schnittke, for example, made known his indebtedness to Vieru�s Eratosthenes' Sieve for much of his own understanding of serial techniques. The performance of the clarinet quintet benefited greatly from the passionate advocacy of Nicholas Carpenter, principal clarinetist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
One might fleetingly be tempted to think of Vieru�s Eratosthenes' Sieve as being surreal, but this would be slightly misplaced. It is musical Theatre of the Absurd and has much outward humour that masks an inner seriousness of intention. Indeed it is difficult to think of a work that conveys such a complex mathematical basis (the music presents sequences of prime number multiples) as accessibly as here, with a number corresponding to a mood, a given style of playing, or the playing of musical quotations and vocal contributions. Brief spoken quotations from Ionescu�s play The Chairs further aided the sense of futility, irritation and even boredom with the task at hand.
The performance was one of insightful integrity of execution, mixed with much enjoyment of the experience. Andrei Vieru�s own contribution was of unassuming brilliance. The whole ensemble became player-personalities with temperaments and moods and each offered contributions to bring smiles, amazement and disbelief at the proceedings from the audience in reaction.
Le Midi libre
Bach and his limpidity under the fingers of Vieru
Johann Sebastian would not have been displeased. In the playing of Andreï Vieru, right from the first evening of the cycle, the preludes and fugues of Bach�s Well-tempered Clavier found their precise dimension thanks to the delicacy and musical approach of the Romanian pianist. The audience was at once able to measure the soloist�s mastery, the elegance of his touch, and his dynamism in those phrases where rhythm and pace are required.
Attentive, without ostentation or particularly spectacular effects, Vieru offered us a limpid, intimate Bach, building around the architecture of the musical phrases an edifice of remarkable solidity and admirable clarity. To give this work humanity and character.
Two musicians in complicity with Bach
Listening to Vieru, one perceives at once the mystery and the self-evidence that impels a performer towards a specific composer. (�) Between Bach and the Romanian pianist, something is enacted that comes into the category of the invisible, something eminently profound and luminous. And the notes he unfolded in his sober and nuanced playing were charged with bewitching clarity.
In The Art of Fugue, Vieru created a subtle bond with the audience. The interiority of the musician, his deceptively detached attitude, gave the curious impression that the music was coming from elsewhere. There lies all the magic and the force of this musical personality who rejects all exterior effect, all effusion. His interpretation is nothing but transparency and harmony; it is haunted by the spirit of Bach.
The musical intelligence and the sensibility of Sonia Wieder-Atherton and Vieru were to blend in Bach�s Cello Sonata no.3. In the second movement, the dialogue between the two instruments achieved a magnificent equilibrium to which the listeners responded with a devout silence. And the few seconds that prolonged the emotion of the final chord bore eloquent witness to the musical communion experienced by the audience.
Sunday morning at Flagey
On 28 September last, we were fortunate to hear a pianist we had discovered a good ten years ago and who had impressed us then with his very pure approach to the works of Bach. For many people, he has become a sort of second Lupu, his compatriot. And so we were glad to see him again at last. He was accompanied by a young cellist, also Romanian, a highly promising talent with what is already a distinctive personality.
In fact, the concert was splendid in every respect: the Sonata of Anatol Vieru, a work in the tradition of Enesco, at once pungent, sober, and imbued with genuine nobility; the Debussy Sonata; and finally Beethoven�s last work for these forces, his op.102 no.2. One could not but admire this rigour with just a hint of austerity, this impressive authority, this utter rejection of the celebrity syndrome, a discretion that is forgotten by so many of our artists who achieve fame too quickly. Here we were offered a lesson, a demonstration of what chamber music should be: total communion between the artists, but also with the audience.