Violin Recital in the Cathedral Song School

Dancing with Bach

Wednesday 30 January 2019 – 1:00-1:40 pm


On Wednesday 30 January we had the great pleasure of welcoming back the violinist Adriana Cristea to the Cathedral, where she performed her ‘Dancing With Bach’ lunchtime recital programme in the intimate setting of the Cathedral Song School.

Born in Ploiesti, Romania, to a family of musicians, Adriana started playing the violin at the age of five, under the guidance of her parents. She has won 27 national and international prizes in competitions, including the 1st prize, the second prize and the George Enescu medal at Remember Enescu International Violin Competition, the 3rd prize at Erich Bergel-Dorothy Kitchen International Competition, and the 2nd prize at ‘Citta Di Filadelfia’ International Music Competition. In 2015 she completed her Masters Degree with Distinction at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Professor Yossi Zivoni. She was kindly supported by the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music with a full scholarship.

Her career as a soloist and recitalist includes concerts in Austria, France, Holland, Italy, Lebanon, Romania and the UK, where her venues include St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. James’s Church Piccadilly. Music festival performances include The International Holland Music Sessions and George Enescu Festival in Romania. She has performed as soloist with the Paul Constantinescu Philharmonic Orchestra, the Beirut Chamber Orchestra and others. In 2018 she launched her first recital project called ‘Romania With Love’, dedicated to Classical Romanian Music inspired by Traditional Romanian Folk Music, in London. Her second recital project, dedicated to solo violin music, ‘Dancing With Bach’, was also launched in 2018. Future engagements for the 2018/2019 season include recitals in the UK.


Greeted with smiles from an audience, which included Bach enthusiasts, and who remembered Adriana’s previous inspiring playing, Adriana began her ‘Dancing with Bach’ programme with the 1st Partita for Solo Violin in B Minor, BWV 1002.

This Partita belongs to J.S.Bach’s Six Sonatas and Partitas, (BWV 1001-1006), a set of pieces composed between 1703 and 1720, although not published until 1802, as it was largely ignored until Joseph Joachim performed these works. They are now considered an essential part of the violin repertoire, frequently performed and recorded.

The opening Partita is in traditional dance-form movements, consisting of ‘Allemande’, ‘Courante’, ‘Sarabande’, with the final lively ‘Tempo di Borea’ (replacing the usual ‘Gigue’). Each movement is followed by a variation called ‘Double’, which elaborates on the bass-line of the prior movement. This first half of the recital was extremely moving, with Adriana demonstrating Baroque string playing at its best; and, through her playing, we were connected to the spiritual nature of Bach’s music. This is not only experienced in his choral and instrumental works but, as Adriana so clearly showed, is also in a solo context, which in its brightness matched perfectly with the acoustics of the Song School.


After a brief pause, Adriana began the second half of her recital, playing again from memory, with the sublime sounds of Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 – the last work in the Six Sonatas and Partitas. This was perhaps more immediately recognisable to the audience, starting with the ‘Prelude’, and followed by ‘Loure’, ‘Gavotte en Rondeau’, ‘Minuets 1 and 2’, ‘Bourée’ and ‘Gigue’.

The majestic ‘Prelude’, requiring advanced bowing technique and consisting almost entirely of semiquavers, was also transcribed by Bach for use in two cantatas in 1729 and 1731, hence our familiarity with the melodies. The ‘Gavotte en Rondeau’ can be heard on TV and Radio programme, and in 1933 Rachmaninov transcribed the ‘Prelude’, ‘Gavotte’ and ‘Gigue’ for piano; therefore again, we felt at home listening to these Bach tunes!

Adriana’s playing was exquisite throughout, with her sensitive and passionate interpretation of Bach’s solo music. Her ‘Dancing with Bach’ was also evident in the Song School itself as here, during the ‘Gavotte en Rondeau’ and ‘Minuets’, we were entertained by flickering lights passing through the latticed window panes, as if in perfect time to the rhythm and spirit of Bach! Listening to Bach’s music is a personal journey for both performer and listener, and we were so fortunate to have Adriana here to share with us her wonderful joy of J. S. Bach!



J.S. Bach (1685-1750) Partita No 1 in B minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1002

Allemande, Double, Corrente, Double, Sarabande, Double, Tempo di Borea, Double

J.S. Bach (1685-1750) Partita No 3 in E Major for Solo violin, BWV 1006

Prelude, Loure, Gavotte en Rondeau, Menuet I, Menuet II, Bourée, Gigue




On behalf of our Director of Music, Andrew Wright, we would like to thank Adriana Cristea for her most inspiring performance today and we hope to hear her beautiful violin playing again soon at Brentwood Cathedral.

Julia Bentham

Admission is free, but we welcome your contribution towards our expenses. If you are a UK tax payer please consider using Gift Aid to increase the value of your donation by a quarter.

Photos – Graham Hillman

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