Live Review: Alexandra Dariescu

Robin Thompson 26 November 2012

Alexandra Dariescu

West Road Concert Hall

“This is better than Rizzle Kicks,” I heard someone say in the row behind me. Whilst that is a strong claim, watching pianist Alexandra Dariescu’s performance of Beethoven, Scarlatti, Schumann and Chopin at the West Road concert hall was certainly an enjoyable activity whilst waiting for the duo from Brighton at the Corn Exchange the following week.

Dariescu was born in Romania in 1985, and whilst her playing retains some Eastern European influence, she has been in the UK for most of the last decade, initially studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, and more recently collaborating with other well-known musicians (such as the Belcea and Elias string quartets). In June 2011, she was featured as BBC Music Magazine’s rising star, and from this performance it was evident why. She communicated with her audience, not only through her short explanations at the beginning of each piece (including such wise words as “Scarlatti wrote fifty-five keyboard sonatas, and this is one of them”), but even better through her playing. Beethoven’s sixth piano concerto contained the “humour and sarcasm” that Dariescu promised, which brought smiles to many of the faces in the audience.

As well as Alessandra Scarlatti’s sonata for keyboard in F minor, and Beethoven’s sixth piano sonata, Dariescu played Schumann’s Fantasiestucke and 24 Preludes by Chopin. The Chopin work was the highlight of the concert, containing dazzling technical playing juxtaposed with beautiful melodies. Chopin wrote a Prelude in every key, inspired by Bach, whilst he was on holiday in Majorca – perhaps fortunately, given the pieces that were written, the holiday was ruined both by rain and by the locals’ insistence that Chopin stayed inside, as they were afraid of catching the advancing tuberculosis that led to his death in 1849.

Robin Thompson