East and West - Dörken
Ars Produktion ARS 38 286
Classical - Instrumental
Kalomiris: 5 Preludes
Bartók: 6 Romanian Folk Dances
Chopin: Polonaise, Op.26 No. 1
Schubert: 12 Ländler
Greig: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen
Poulenc: 8 Nocturnes
Falla: Danse rituelle de feu
Danae Dörkin (piano)
- Béla Bartók: Román Népi Táncok, Sz. 56 BB 68 'Romanian Folk Dances'
- Frederic Chopin: Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26 No. 1
- Manuel de Falla: El amor brujo (1914-25)
- Edvard Grieg: Lyriske stykker (Lyric Pieces) VIII, Op. 65
- Manolis Kalomiris: 5 Preludes
- Francis Poulenc: 8 Nocturnes, FP 56
- Franz Schubert: 12 Ländler, D. 790
Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 13, 2019
The start of this recital is so passionately compelling that for a moment I thought that I’d put a disc of Martha Argerich in my player, only to discover that it was indeed the new ARS Produktion release of Danae Dörken playing the first of five preludes of Manolis Kalomiris: “Molto agitato ed appassionato”. Listening on I wondered if my ‘mistake’ was all that big. Both have an emotion rich background, giving their interpretations that extra zest; Argerich from Argentina, Dörken from Greece, a whole generation apart, but both having that rare pianistic feeling enabling them to adjust to different styles, and last but not least that phenomenal technique. But there the comparison ends. Dörken’s personality and independent temperament steers clear of becoming pushy and idiosyncratic, which, I fear, some idols have, maybe unwillingly, grown into, whilst her poetical sentiments are more than often of an exquisite, romantic nature.
Although Kalomiris is not a composer that rings global bells, we may assume that he is well known in his home country where he is seen as the “effective leader of the modern Greek National School of Music”. Be that as it may, his compositional output is modest and recordings are few. But there is a recording of his ‘complete’ piano music on the ‘Grand Piano’ label (1917: Manolis Kalomiris: Complete Works for Solo Piano, Olivier Chauzu), covering, amongst others, the five Preludes and the Nocturne. Good though Chauzu plays, Dörken clearly has the edge: Her 5 Preludes sparkle with drive and emotional sensitivity, demonstrating a true understanding of the composer’s folkloristic inspiration. According to her personal message preceding the liner notes, this folkloristic notion is her motto for binding the various parts of the recital together; a combination of East and West melodies “firmly anchored in the souls of the people of each country”.
The liner notes give, understandably, much attention to the Greek composer Kalomiris, but comments on Chopin’s Polonaise Op. 26 No. 1 are remarkably put up front. If Dörken considers this to be a centre piece of her programme, I couldn’t agree more. For several reasons: It is the single longest work on disc; it is indeed firmly anchored in Polish folklore, but, more importantly than anything else, it gets here an interpretation that can, in comparison with many Chopin specialists, including the 1965 Warsaw Chopin Competition winner, Martha Argerich, proudly stand-up to whatever competition there is. With her candid, nonconformist character, she delivers it with a fascinating personal touch, masterly combining power and - symbolic for the Polish soul - a large dose of passionate ‘melancholia’.
I liked very much her views on Bartok’s six Romanian Folk Dances. These are based on folk tunes from the Transylvanian part of Romania. Many of them have a clear Hungarian slant, more than 25% of its population being from Hungarian descent. Dörken sets them in a lively and witty framework.
Schubert’s twelve Ländler - South German folk dance melodies - may seem simple tunes; in the hands of Dörken they get extra weight, as does the following Norwegian Wedding Day March, turned it into a high voltage affair, which may not have been Grieg’s intention, but it does give marriage the passionate under current it deserves, especially in a Nordic country, where emotion always seem to be kept strictly private.
The eight Nocturnes from Francis Poulenc, written on several occasions and dealing with diverse subjects, are far removed from ‘drowsy evening chants’. They are jewels of invention, keeping, in fact, the listener wide awake. They are full of contrasts, generating an appreciative showcase of Dörken’s outstanding pianistic versatility. And the final piece, De Falla’s ‘Dance rituelle du feu’’ - Ritual Fire Dance - , plays right into the supple hands of Danae.
Looking at the recital in its totality made me wonder if we are not dealing with four, instead of only two European quarters of the compass. North and South seem equally well represented. Apart from this minor critical remark, I could not find anything else to complain about.
With the assistance of the ARS Produktion recording team, this latest Danae Dörken release is an ‘all 5 stars’ performance, which I’ve given with pleasure and genuine admiration.
Post Scriptum: Should you ever have a chance to hear any or all of these pieces live, don’t miss out on it. This is a truly great pianist and … Danae is an intriguingly personnality as she plays.
Copyright © 2019 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net