Julia Sévilla-Fraysse, cello
Antoine De Grolée, piano
This album, Folklore, recorded by cellist Julia Sévilla-Fraysse and pianist Antoine De Grolée includes music of composers who lived in central Europe between the 19th and 20th century. This is a choice both nice and interesting because at that time the feeling of cultural identity began to spread in this portion of Europe, divided among two enormous multicultural empires, the Prussian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires, and Slavic-speaking populations became more and more interested in their culture and rediscovered their folklore and traditions. The influence of this heritage was later manifest their artistic expression and especially in music.
The journey of Folklore begins with Antonìn Dvořák and his Rondo in G major, op. 94. Two versions of the Rondo exists. The first one, a cello and piano version, has been written in 1891 and dedicated to the composer’s friend, Hanuš Wihan. Wihan played with Dvorák at the premiere of the work in 1892, during a farewell concert of the composer, who was about to leave for America. The second version, scored in 1893, is the rearrangement of the first for cello and orchestra. It is of course the first version which has been recorded in Folklore.
The next work is a three-movement Sonata for Solo Cello in B minor, op. 8, by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. It has been composed in 1915, but the First World War delayed its premiere until 1918, when it was finally performed in Budapest. The cellist was Jeno Kerpely, who played in the Waldbauer-Kerpely Quartet, the ensemble which had premiered Bartók’s first four string quartets. Kodály was very well aware of the value of his work (ha said that “in 25 years no cellist will be accepted who has not played it”), which has been influenced by Debussy, Bartók and by Hungarian folk music, and actually the Sonata is considered one of the most important works for cello written since Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites.
Pohádka, a chamber work, reveals for its part the interesting of Czech composer Leoš Janácek for Russian culture because its programme has been inspired by The Tale of Tsar Berendyey, an epic poem written by the Russian writer Vasily Zhukovsky. Many versions of this work exist, but it is the last that it is usually performed in our days.
The last piece of Folklore is the Hungarian Rhapsody, op. 68, by David Popper, the distinguished Austrian cellist of the XIX and early XX century who composed more than seventy-five works, mostly for his instrument.
«There are some emotions that are striking in their quality» states Julia Sévilla-Fraysse at the beginning of the booklet and definitely this can be the best epitome for Folklore. This simple quote explains better than anything else the character that Sévilla-Fraysse and Antoine De Grolée have given to the selected pieces. The splendid colours, the delicacy and abandonment and the fluid sound of both instruments reveal almost immediately the intensity of feelings the two musicians express here.
What is really charming is the prominence of the typical sound of the Slavonic music (its melancholy and its brilliant character are constantly mixed in the Rondo and in the Rhapsody), but Sévilla-Fraysse and De Glolée give no less good interpretation of its most sombre sides. Kodály’s Sonata is memorable for the energy and strain of its opening and the same features characterize also the Allegro, while the two musicians accentuate the rarefied atmosphere of the Adagio, with astonishing result. Pohádka, for its part, has a dreamy character and the sound of the piano becomes here almost magical. Of the three movements of this chamber work, I think the Adagio is really charming.