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Hommage à Dinu Lipatti




Markus Schäfer © Jonas Kaffine
Markus Schäfer © Jonas Kaffine


Markus Schäfer, tenor
Mihai Ungureanu, piano

Ungureanu Mihai © Werner Feldmann
Ungureanu Mihai © Werner Feldmann

Dinu Lipatti was born in Bucharest in March 1917. In his 33 years of life - prematurely ended by the Hodgkin lymphoma - he managed to become a world sensation, the “Prince of Pianists”. Endowed with a uniquely profound musicianship, his playing had extraordinary clarity and his interpretations, probing musicality. Lipatti quickly earned the recognition and admiration of the musical luminaries of his time. He was the most promising performer of his generation, and he also conducted, and hoped most of all to become a composer. His famous godfather and teacher, George Enesco, said: “I shall always maintain that his renown as an interpreter should not overshadow his image as a composer”. Tonight, we shall indeed remember Lipatti the composer. During his prodigious activity as a performer, he never neglected composition, which for him was a demanding and continuous necessity. While in his early works he showed a neo-Romantic and neo-Classical orientation, he was also strongly influenced by The Romanian School of Composition: Enesco, Jora, Lazar. In his later period, he admitted to two basic orientations – Romanian and contemporary, with the aim of creating a fusion of the two. Dinu Lipatti could have developed in one of the greatest musical personalities of the 20th century, had he lived to fully develop his extraordinary musical intelligence and creativity.

The biography “Lipatti” by two leading Romanian musicologists, Dragos Tanasescu and Grigore Bargauanu, Ed. Kahn and Averill, 1988, helps us take a closer, more informed look into Lipatti’s compositions:
“The late chapter of Lipatti´s creative output contains two Lieder Cycles. The two Cycles with its poetic sources, achieve a unity through the structure, dimensions and similar motives. The quality of the poems is brought out with discreet sensitivity.

The first of the two is set to Poems by Verlaine and contains five Songs for Tenor (1941). It is refined and inspired music reflecting the composer’s artistic maturity. Sometimes the vocal part is a recitative with a free improvisatory character, at other times, a simple melody as and where the text demands such treatment. The accompaniment with impressionistic harmonies is closely linked to the voice either anticipating it or moving parallel with it, or imitating it like an echo. Occasional chromatic passages add a certain color expressing the mood of the poem.

The Four Melodies for Voice and Piano (1945) is his second Lieder Cycle and is set to poems by Rimbaud, Eluard and Valéry. These are songs of great simplicity and conciseness, the recitative is close to the intonation of speech, the accompaniment without pianistic displays. Fantasy for piano (1940) appears as Lipatti’s most developed pianistic composition, a work of real substance. It is actually the work Lipatti hoped to develop into a Symphony, The Fantasy has five parts of which tonight we will listen to 4. Allegretto Cantabile, which has a discreet Rumanian flavor with a calm development of a continuous melody treated in a classical manner. Fantasia for Piano represents a step forward in Lipatti’s pianistic creation.”

George Enescu (1881-1955) was one of the towering musical figures of the 20th century, yet sixty five years after his death, his work remains largely unknown, and his lasting importance mostly unrecognized, outside his native Romania. His works - complex and demanding - require devoted performers not only for deciphering the scores but mainly for getting their very essence of meanings. The Romanian composer developed a very personal manner of treating the sound, a unique way of relating orchestral textures and highlighting each voice implied in a composition. Tonight, however, we shall listen to his Seven Songs de Clément Marot, for voice & piano, Op. 15. This vaguely neo-classical song cycle is based on a series of love-poems from the writings of sixteenth century poet Clément Marot. They range in style from the starkly simple to the frankly impressionistic and are an excellent example of Enescu's developing diversity of taste and style during the early years of the 20th century. The Song Cycle was premièred in 1908.

Romanian composer, Violeta Dinescu was born in Bucharest in 1953 and today resides in Germany. She began her music studies in 1972 at the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory in Bucharest where she studied composition with Myriam Marbe. In 1978, she received a Master’s Degree with distinction. She has also received diplomas in the fields of composition, piano and pedagogics. She started teaching at the George Enescu Music School in Bucharest, giving courses in music history, aesthetics, counterpoint, harmony and piano. In 1980, she joined the Romanian Composers’ Union. Since 1986, she has been teaching at the German Music Academies in Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Bayreuth, and, since 1996, has been a Professor of Applied Composition at the University of Oldenburg. In 1996, she started inviting composers there to a weekly Composition Colloquium. More than 1.000 guests included, among others, Mauricio Kagel, Krzysztof Penderecki, Stefan Niculescu, Aurel Stroe, Jean-Luc Darbellay and Graham Waterhouse. The German violinist Jenny Abel commissioned "Mein Auge ist zu allen sieben Sphären zurückgekehrt" on texts of Dante’s „Paradise“ in 2017 for a concert dedicated to Lipatti’s 100th birthday. This will be the premiere of the whole Lied cycle.

The German tenor Markus Schäfer is an outstanding lied interpreter, who has enjoyed great success in New York (Lincoln Center), in Vienna, at the Schubert Festivals in Feldkirch and in Schwarzenberg, at Wigmore Hall in London, and the Heidelberg Spring Festival. His CD recordings has received many prizes (including a Grammy for the St. Matthew Passion under the direction of Nickolaus Harnoncourt). Since 2008, Markus Schäfer has been a Professor of Singing at the Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media.
The Romanian pianist Mihai Ungureanu, was only 16 years old when he made his debut performing Liszt’ piano concerto No.1. Since 1981 Mihai Ungureanu has been performing widely, collaborating with all the most important Romanian Symphony Orchestras, meeting with critical and public acclaim. He has been touring the world as a soloist as well as in various chamber music ensembles.

The Romanian pianist Mihai Ungureanu, was only 16 years old when he made his debut performing Liszt’ piano concerto No.1. Since 1981 Mihai Ungureanu has been performing widely, collaborating with all the most important Romanian Symphony Orchestras, meeting with critical and public acclaim. He has been the director of the Craiova “Oltenia” Philharmonic Orchestra for almost 20 years.

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