ROMANIAN born pianist Alexandra Dariescu is back at her alma mater, the Royal Northern College of Music, on January 19, in recital – the second of many she’s giving around the UK this year, and a predecessor to the same programme at the Wigmore Hall in London later this month.
“It’s the first time I’ve been back to play at the RNCM since I left in 2008,” she tells me. “It will be very, very special for me to go back.”
She made a big impact while she was here. Alexandra moved to the UK at the age of 17 – she’d been performing in public since she was nine years old – and auditioned in Manchester soon after. After winning the college’s Gold Medal she was selected for promotion by the Young Classical Artists Trust. She’s since played Carnegie Hall in New York and in Geneva, Argentina, South Africa and Germany.
Her engagements this year include concerto appearances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK and a visit to Norway, where she will give the Nordic premiere of Ginastera’s rarely heard Concierto Argentino, with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra under the baton of John Storgårds (familiar to us Mancs as principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic).
“It’s a fantastic concerto,” says Alexandra, “and rare because Ginastera withdrew it after the first performance – only one other person has played it recently.”
She’s also appearing with the Hallé and conductor Jamie Phillips (but not in Manchester), and giving the world premiere of a new concerto by Iris ter Schiphorst in Germany.
And she’s been busy recording: her second CD of preludes by Shostakovich and Szymanowski is out on the Champs Hill label (there’ll be a third disc, of Fauré and Messiaen, next year), she’s put down the Tchaikovsky piano concerto no. 1 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (out in May on Signum), and recorded Emily Howard’s Mesmerism, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrew Gourlay, due in August on NMC.
Alexandra’s also recently signed with the prestigious German agency Konzertdirektion Schmid as well as Swiss agency Caecilia – “probably two of the most exciting things that have happened to me in the past five years,” she says.
When we last spoke, Alexandra mentioned her enthusiasm for baking (she’s a big Bake-Off fan). But she hasn’t much time in the kitchen these days – “I’m living out of a suitcase now,” she says.