This post to bring to the attention of our readers an extraordinary violinist, Irina Muresanu.
Rumanian by birth, she now lives in Maryland and teaches at the University of Maryland. Sono Luminus recently released the album Four Strings Around the World (DSL 92221) and forwarded to us a copy for review on our blog.
When you have a chance, email Sono Luminus for a digital link to Four Strings Around the World. Or even better, find a hard copy of this beautifully engineered CD. I promise you will be stunned by not only the virtuosic playing of Irina Muresanu’s playing but also by her deep commitment to exploring music for her instrument from musical cultures as diverse as Indian, Persian, Native American, Irish, Chinese and Argentine ones. Oh, and read her liner notes. This is a musical scholar who gives voice to her ideas both in words and in her playing.
In her album she mixes samples of an off-beat repertory with sundry pieces by Kreisler, Paganini, and JS Bach. The Caprice No. 24 of Niccolo Paganini, Fritz Kreisler’s Recitative and Scherzo, Op. 6 and JS Bach’s Chaconne from the D minor Partita are de rigueur test pieces for the best of violinists and Irina Muresanu quickly puts any doubts to rest: this is a superb artist in full command of her instrument. She plays the Italian master’s Caprice with Romantic bel canto singing tone. The Kreisler is all pure Viennese Schlagmusik here given a lively reading. The Bach Chaconne – a notoriously tricky musical mine-field is played by Muresanu with classical sobriety
None of the rest of the music in this album is strictly and traditionally classic, but grown from strong folk roots. Such is the case with Georges Enescu’s decidedly gypsy-flavored Airs in Romanian Style, which Muresanu plays with the dash and abandon of a village fiddler and with daunting technique.
In the Gaelic Tar éis an Caoineadh the composer and Ms. Muresanu employ all sorts of technically dazzling effects typical of Irish fiddle music. In Reza Vali’s Calligraphy No. 5 the inspiration for the composer is born out of ancient music for the Arab rebab and the Persian kemancheh, both ancestors to the western violin. In both these compositions Muresanu is nothing short of dazzling, as her violin imitates the bending of the pitch typical of much Iranian music with its modal, non-western sound.
In Shirih Korde’s three-part Vak for violin and electronic drone Muresanu’s playing is hauntingly redolent of the sound of Indian string instruments. In Bright Sheng’s lovely The Stream Flows: II, Mureanu adopts a percussive mode of playing that alternates with a plangent sound reminiscent of a Chinese erhu.
The music of Astor Piazzolla’s Tango Etude No. 3 is cool at times, red hot at others, recalling the sound of fiddles played in dimly-lit, smoke-filled dives near the docks of the River Plate. Muresanu cuts loose on this track fearlessly throwing all caution to the winds.
Entering the musically unknown territory of Native American composer Jerod Impichchaachaha’Tate, of the Chickasaw Nation, Irina Muresanu plays Oshta with intensity and respect for the spirituality inherent in this strangely haunting composition.
Mark O’Connor’s The Cricket Dance is Appalachian to the core and foot-tappin’ and fiddlin’ her way into a grand finale, Irina Muresanu convinces us there’s simply nothing in this world she cannot play.
Rafael de Acha http://www.rafaelmusicnotesa.com April 2, 2018