MATEI VARGA

Dinu Lipatti, born 1917 might have possibly been the best known Rumanian pianist of his or any other generation had his career not been cut short by his untimely death at the age of 33 as a result of complications from Hodgkin Disease. Radu Lupu, born in 1945 might possibly be the most famous Rumanian pianist of his or any other generation. Tudor Dumitrescu, a pianist who lived from 1957 until his tragic death in an earthquake in his native Bucarest in 1977 was at the time of his passing another Rumanian national musical icon-to-be.

 

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Now the time is long overdue to make room for another master born to play in the grand manner. His name is Matei Varga and make no mistake, this artist is not yet another dazzling firebrand eagerly ready for his next interview and photo-op combo, but a deeply serious musician well in the midst of a major career.

Perhaps better known in Europe than here Varga’s playing is solid, elegant, of substance, containing gravitas, profound musicality, and rigorous musicianship. Varga’s hour-long CD, Early Departures (Sono Luminus DSL92223) is about to be released on June 29th and available for purchase as either a CD or as a digital download from http://www.sonoluminus.com

This treasure of an album is framed as a sober though not somber homage to three music giants of the 20th century linked together here by virtue of their premature encounters with death. And why J.S. Bach along with them? The brief Adagio from the Concerto in D Minor after Benedetto Marcello provides four and a half meditative minutes of reflection and repose after the four movement suite In the Mists by Leoš Janáček, the neighboring Bohemia’s national composer, who wrote it shortly after the death of his daughter

Tudor Dumitrescu, both concert pianist and composer, wrote 7 Preludes as a very personal, very introspective, heartfelt composition in which intimations of the tragedy that would befall him are palpably evident. In Varga’ splendid notes accompanying the CD, this is mentioned along with touching details about the pianist’s subsequent visits to Dimitrescu’s mother in their Bucarest apartment after her son’s death.

Dinu Lipatti is represented here by three brief pièces d’occasion most probably part of the late pianist arsenal of encores to be used at the end of his legendary recitals, one of which I still remember having attended as a six year old child in my native Havana. Listening to this music challenged one’s objectivity as it brought back a flood of happy memories.

Again, SONO LUMINUS proves to be a pioneer in the recording industry deserving of our thanks, and those thanks are also due and extended to Matei Varga for his musical explorations and his artistry.

Rafael de Acha

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