SOUND WAVES • Alexandra Silocea (pn) • AVIE 2266 (61:32)
ROMBERG Eärendil, the Mariner. DEBUSSY L’Isle joyeuse. Reflets dans l’eau. Poissons d’or. RAVEL Jeux d’eau. LISZT Les Jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este. Variations on Bach’s Cantata “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, ZagenRead more class="COMPOSER12">.” SCHUBERT-LISZT Der Müller und der Bach
My first exposure to Alexandra Silocea came with her debut CD, which I reviewed back in Fanfare 35:1. That recording was of the first five Prokofiev piano sonatas—a Volume One of two, which I felt when reviewing it almost two years ago, promised when completed to be a very fine overall cycle. I eagerly awaited that second issue. But instead of completing that project, Silocea has ventured into new territory, out of a “personal need” to explore a “different musical language.” Hence Sound Waves.
The pianist describes the current project as “a journey through colours, shapes, textures, where there is room for mystery, where one can take a step back and wander through the imagination.” It is, for her, the direct antithesis of Prokofiev, whose music is “very direct, precise, witty and dramatic.” It is a project that has many possibilities. Remarkably Silocea is equally at home in this musical language as she was in the former. From the whirling and evocative figurations of Ravel’s Jeux d’eau to the almost static impression of Liszt’s Nuages gris, there is never doubt that the pianist is always in command of the musical moment. There is always a sense of exploration in her playing, from the numerous and varied sounds she conjures up to the relaxed, almost non-metrical aspect of her playing in certain key moments. At times the music seems to be composed on the spot, as though the pianist is improvising the whole program before our very ears. There are places in which she could be more effusive, more dynamic, as in the climaxes of Debussy’s mysterious and virtuosic L’Isle joyeuse—it is, after all, the “Island of Joy” which the composer is painting in tones—but her elegant and subtle way with the music can hardly be described as unsuccessful. It is just less unrestrained than I would like. For that latter approach I will still have to seek out my recordings of Richter and Horowitz. An especially fascinating part of this program comes in the music of the young Norwegian composer, Martin Romberg’s (b. 1978) Eärendil, the Mariner based on a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien. Eärendil (translating as “Lover of the Sea” in the elven language of Quenya) is the first mortal man to cross the great sea between Middle Earth and Valinor (the land of the Gods); one of the key moments in the tale is the point at which the protagonist’s ship, Vingilótë, transforms from a boat into a flying vessel and is seen by the peoples of Middle Earth, who call it Gil-Estel or “Star of High Hope.” Romberg’s piece is a true tour de force in its technical difficulties, as in its beautifully evocative nature. It perfectly allows one to wander through one’s imagination.
Though I do wish that Silocea would have included other types of “waves” in this recital other than the typical water sounds—perhaps Alkan’s Le Vent or even De Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance might have made for an interesting contrast in sound, shape, and imagery—for the program which she has so lovingly put together, one can only give her grade A marks. Her playing continues to fascinate, to inspire; and it only seems to get better with time. Now if we could only get that Volume Two of the Prokofiev!