Iancu Dumitrescu is talking to me, but thankfully not about phenomenology (which he's studied) because it would kill the conversation right there. No, we're having a chat in Cafe Oto just like a couple of mates, over a beer, because I found out he's that kind of fellow; amiable, friendly and unpretentious.
"Life is long, art is short," he said, confounding me for a few seconds because I thought he was starting to get deep. Turns out he was subverting an old saying but I'd never heard the original. Then he chuckled. It wasn't the first joke we would share. "Excuse me," he said. "But French is my first language, not English", which confused me even more because he's Romanian. His main language, however, must be music, although it's not one many would understand.
The compositions of Dumitrescu and his wife, Ana-Maria Avram, may confound those unaccustomed to what is known as 'spectral music' but I doubt it would leave them unresponsive. The theoretical side apart, when the Hyperion Ensemble act according to the composers' dramatic gestures you must listen, either straining to catch the minute detail of breaths through brass and fingers scuttling lightly across strings, or the wall-demolishing eruption of everyone going full throttle.
He didn't mind that I was a relative newcomer to his music. Why would he? Still, I felt ashamed at confessing as much, but relieved when he expressed delight at hearing from a recent convert. He was genuinely pleased. Perhaps, despite having composed and performed for decades, it still surprises him that he should be so welcomed. He has, after all, come in from the 'cold' of a communist regime which has surely left its mark, to the warmth of loving arms (albeit those of a minority) around the world. I bought the book of their scores...
...he gladly signed my copy...
...it's available now from ReR Megacorp.
You may be wondering what the performances were like but there's little point me describing anything because many are available on YouTube; suffice to say both Iancu and Ana-Maria are compelling performers in their own right as they conjure sounds from the ensemble with dramatic gestures, expressions and wiggling fingers. They seem to communicate in codes only known to the orchestra but the breadth of sounds they create and their impact in the room can be understood and appreciated by anyone fortunate enough to be there.