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Danish and Romanian Pieces
Mihaela Oprea (violin)
Jakob Alsgaard Bahr (piano)
rec. 2018, Alsion, Sønderborg, Denmark

What an interesting mix, to put it mildly. This Danish-Romanian mélange sees Nielsen cosy up to the Tango, and Enescu hunker down with Niels Gade and if that sounds odd then the rationale is not necessarily far to seek. Violinist Mihaela Oprea was born in Romania where she studied and performed as a soloist before joining the South Denmark Philharmonic Orchestra where she led the second violins for some years and is now the orchestra’s concertmaster.

She has selected seven pieces from each country. Gade’s Capriccio is a splendid character piece with a warmly lyric B section whilst his Brudevalsen is a charmer and it’s a pity we don’t hear it more in recitals. The two Nielsens are romantic morceaux, the Romance extracted from the Fantasy Pieces for oboe and piano heard in the arrangement by violinist Hans Sitt and Sænk kun dit hoved, du blomst an example of his deft way with songs. Egil Harder’s salon-sweet Serenata and Fini Henriques’s Wigenlied – one of his best-known pieces and a work he himself recorded on 78s – are played with freshness and simplicity. To end the Danish selection, and the disc, with Jacob Gade’s classic hit Tango Jalousie is to end on a delightful note.

The Romanian contingent is less often encountered with the exception of the two early Enescu pieces and the evergreen Dinicu. Enescu’s Impromptu Concertant is a competition piece full of vitality and is played with requisite authority – though if you turn to Remus Azoitei and Eduard Stan on Hänssler you will find a rather greater sense of atmosphere – and the Ballada is splendidly done as well, albeit not as extrovertly as the Hänssler pairing on their all-Enescu twofer. Appropriately Constantin Nottar’s Siciliana is dedicated to Enescu and is laced with vocalised lyricism and languid romanticism. Ciprian Porumbescu’s Balada is another romantic-sounding piece, full of husky virility in its dance episodes. For a clearer example of folkloric influence Constantin Dimitrescu’s Dans ţărănesc is a rustic dance heard in its arrangement for violin, whereas Chiriac’s Serenada is chanson d’amour plain and simple. After this, Dinicu’s Hora Staccato is a bit of letdown; very deadpan and not really put across with much flair. I forebear to mention the word Heifetz.

Otherwise this is a genial well-recorded selection, especially strong on the Romanian genre pieces, and played with rapport by Oprea and Jakob Alsgaard Bahr.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: John France

Niels W. GADE (1817-1890)
Capriccio (1861) [8:54]
George ENESCU (1881-1955)
Impromptu Concertant (1903) [5:29]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Romance from Fantasy pieces [3:09]
Constantin C. NOTTARA (1890-1951)
Siciliana op.1 no.1 [3:56]
Sænk kun dit hoved, du blomst [2:23]
Ciprian PORUMBESCU (1853-1883)
Balada [7:05]
Constantin DIMITRESCU (1847-1928)
Dans ţărănesc op.15 (Bondedans) [2:52]
Mircea CHIRIAC (1919-1994)
Serenada (1937) [4:12]
Egil HARDER (1917-1997)
Romance no.1 in D Major (1982) [2:10]
Fini HENRIQUES (1867-1940)
Wiegenlied (Vuggevise) (1915) [2:11]
Balada (1895) [4:11]
Niels W. GADE
Brudevalsen fra Et folkesagn (c.1854) [2:35]
Grigoras I. DINICU (1889-1949)
Hora Staccato (1906) [2:04]
Jacob GADE (1879-1963)
Tango Jalousie (1925) [3:51]


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