Danae Dörken chooses an ambitious programme of fantasies by Schubert,
Schumann and C.P.E. Bach. Born in 1991, Dörken has a tendency to linger and
rhapsodize. She has more character, and a stronger artistic profile, than
most pianists her age, who just focus on playing the notes quickly. Dörken’s
talents are deeper but she is still learning what to do with them.
As an example, take the Schubert “Wanderer” fantasy. Dörken takes two
minutes more (at age 22) than Arthur Rubinstein did (at age 78). That’s not
a fair comparison: recordings have generally been getting slower over time.
She’s only a bit more expansive than Herbert Schuch
was last year. Her opening chords are
big and legato, and in the first minute she tapers the music down to a
smaller, more intimate scale ... expect pauses. The slow second movement is
sensitive and beautifully done; the fugal finale makes up for any lack of
firepower you’ll notice in the preceding pages.
is also broad, with a first movement that
takes long deep breaths. There’s a habit of inserting pauses at major
transitions. However, Dörken’s first movement also shows a huge, vibrant
imagination, as she uses lots of rubato, creates sweeping dynamic changes
and fishes for contrast. Every minute finds popular ideas rethought. If you
know Pollini’s quick, driven account, imagine the exact opposite and you’ll
know what I mean.
I wish she had done something similar in the finale. It, too, starts off
at a slow basic tempo, and indeed is frequently mesmerizing (12:20 in
length), but at the two big climaxes she seems to be holding back.
I have the greatest reservations about the C.P.E. Bach fantasy. This is
partly the composer’s fault: a year before his death, he wrote this fantasy
as part of a series of improvisations, setting only a few down for
posterity. The booklet calls the work “anarchic”, which is very true. It
starts off with a beautiful lament in F-sharp minor, gorgeously played by
Dörken. Then, at 2:40, a long pause leads into a sudden quick cascade of
notes and from there on the piece dissolves into barely-connected passages
of different ideas. Bach should have published this as a set of miniatures.
As a set of miniatures it works quite well.
The recorded sound is extremely good, even without trying the SACD layer.
Danae Dörken promises to grow into a considerable talent; her artistry and
interpretive sense are ahead of nearly everyone her age. In the years to
come, she will, I hope, mature, learn more and start to rival pianists of
ages past. Until then, this is not a great recital, but a suggestion of
great things to come.