Romanian-German Dialogues on Romanian Piano Music (II)

Romanian-German Dialogues on Romanian Piano Music (II)

This issue of Musicology Today remains in the atmosphere of the debates on Romanian piano music, held during the symposium on September 23-25, 2022, at the Carl Maria von Weber Conservatory in Dresden. As we saw in the previous issue, the format adopted at this event, organised by Professor Michael Heinemann, involved discussing each topic from two perspectives, one from a German and one from a Romanian musicologist.

The four studies included here illustrate the double reception of two remarkable Romanian piano works: Aurel Stroe’s Sonata No. 3 In Palimpsest (1991), from the point of view of Laura Manolache and Monika Jäger, and Dan Dediu’s Rafale/Heathering Winds (1997), from the analytical perspective of Iulia Mogoșan and Michael Heinemann.

Laura Manolache chooses the formula of a structural analysis, aimed at highlighting the “models of the composer’s mature musical thought”, the composition techniques specific to Aurel Stroe. The author traces how the poetic idea of “palimpsest”, expressed in the sonata’s title, is reflected both at the macrostructural level of the piece – the thematic material coming from three distinct periods of composition (1947, 1957, 1991) – and at the microstructural level. The demonstration initiated by Manolache converges towards emphasising the overall unity of the work, due to the adoption of similar patterns of composition and thematic treatment.

A completely different approach is proposed by Monika Jäger, who offers an example of a quasi-guided reception of this work. In her study, she describes the listening experiment she coordinated as a music teacher with 11th graders, in order to familiarize them with contemporary music. Structuring a coherent and interesting discussion plan around listening to the second part of Stroe’s Sonata No. 3, titled Hommage à Pierre de la Rue, she shows how, with imagination, tact, interdisciplinary openness and, above all, without prejudice, one can optimise the understanding of new music by non-specialists.

Dan Dediu’s Rafale/Heathering Winds, a work based on Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights – as the pun in the title indicates – also inspired two different reading keys. Iulia Mogoșan focuses mainly on the melodic conception, in which she perceives “a new creative aesthetic, a new orientation of our time, probably very different from the first, but also from the second half of the 20th century”. Starting from the concepts of inframelody and supramelody – in the meaning given by Dan Dediu: of manifestations at the border between melody and other musical parameters –, Mogoșan reveals the composer’s inventiveness in exploring them to suggest the complexity of the wind gusts that metaphorically punctuate the narrative plot.

Michael Heinemann detects in Dediu’s work “all kinds of hints for a vivid realisation of the literary model’s dramaturgy in music”, for “a musical narrative that largely follows the plot of the novel”. However, he does not limit himself to what he calls a “naïve hermeneutics of narrative” but identifies two other layers of understanding of the work: one based on the assimilation of the performer (pianist) with the protagonist of the novel from the perspective of Roland Barthes’ semiology of bodies; another structural, at the level of which Dediu’s music and Brontë’s novel converge, and which involves the deconstruction and reconstruction of the sound material itself.

And because the Dresden symposium also hosted a book launch at the end, Musicology Today invites you to read one of the volumes presented on that occasion: George Enescu – Creația pentru pian [George Enescu – Piano Works] (2022) by Raluca Știrbăț. The invitation is addressed by Vlad Văidean in a paper that reflects his erudition on Enescu and goes beyond the conventional boundaries of a book review in its scope and approach. Have a pleasant reading!

Florinela Popa

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