Comment by Steve Elman, music critic, Boston, USA
Albanian-French Pianist Ermira Zyrakja-Lefort Performs Works by Albanian Composers on new Compact Disc
By Steve Elman
Albanian-French pianist Ermira Zyrakja-Lefort's new CD "E Iona Muzikė /Our Music" (AOMCD 001) is a good introduction to the artist herself and to the four Albanian composers she has chosen to highlight. On the evidence of listening alone, they appear to be accomplished musicians building effectively on familiar models. The works by Zadeja, Lara, and Harapi show the influence of Beethoven, Chopin, nineteenth-century Russian music and French impressionsim in varying degrees. Ibrahimi's pieces use a more adventuorous harmonic language but they are still easily approachable. It sounds to me as though there are folk or popular themes (perhaps Albanian) used for the Variations by Zadeja and Lara. The most characteristically Albanian piece may be Ibrahimi's "Motifs for the Legend of Gjergj Elez Alia" (track 10). Taken as a whole, the music is a delightful surprise because the terrain is familar but the pieces themselves are unknown in the U.S. [ ]
Zyrakja-Lefort performs these works in recitals to demonstrate her Albanian heritage, and they obviously work well for her as encores and suites of miniatures. She has the technique to negotiate the flashy Toccatas by Ibrahimi and Zadeja and the sensitivity to convey the poetry of the slower pieces by Harapi and Lara. Her performance here whets our appetite for more substantial music, and I for one look forward to hearing her play Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Debussy - and more Albanian compositions - in her future recordings.
From 1992 to 1997, Steve Elman was host of "Afternoon Classics" - one of the Boston area's best-known radio programs devoted to classical music. He is currently Assistant General Manager for Legal and Extermal Affairs for the WBUR Group in Boston