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Nosag Records

Kinga! plays flute music
George ENESCU (1881 – 1955) Cantabile et Presto [6:07];
César FRANCK (1822 – 1890) Sonate (transcription of Sonata in A major for violin and piano) [28:14];
Samuel BARBER (1910 – 1981) Canzone [3:28];
Franz DOPPLER (1821 – 1883) Fantasie Pastorale Hongroise [12:17];
Jules Auguste Edouard DEMERSSEMANN (1833 – 1866) Solo de Concert #6 [12:22]
Kinga Práda (flute)
Ilona Jánky Práda (piano)
rec. Lilla Akademien, Stockholm, 14 Oct 1999; Studio 2 Swedish Radio, Stockholm, 9 March 2003 (Barber)
NOSAG RECORDS CD 082 [62:36]

A couple of months ago I reviewed a disc of new Swedish music performed by Transylvanian flautist Kinga Práda. It was a fascinating collection and I made it a Recording of the Month. Here she is back with music of more traditional fare from some generations ago. It is gratifying to be able to report that her playing is just as good. She is accompanied by her mother, Ilona Jánky Práda who, especially in the Franck Sonata, shows what a great pianist she is. For many years Ilona has been teaching and giving concerts in her native Transylvania. There is a charming little story behind this recording that I can’t help relating. In the winter of 1998 Ilona Práda contracted a brain haemorrhage that paralyzed her. She slowly but gradually recovered and nine months later was able to go to Sweden for her daughter’s wedding, where she was also able to play a couple of Schumann’s Kinderszenen. She stayed for three months, practising at the piano every day. The day and night before she was to return to Transylvania she made this recording with her daughter. At 3:45 a.m. the recording was finished, at 7:30 a.m. the plane departed!

A couple of the works here reflect the cultural and geographical background of mother and daughter Práda. Transylvania is part of Romania and the people of that region belong to the country’s Hungarian-speaking population. George Enescu, allegedly the greatest Romanian composer and famous also as the teacher of for example Yehudi Menuhin, was according to one of my handbooks "an accomplished melodist (possibly in the forefront in our time) ... orchestrator with a special feeling for tonal quality (especially concerning the flute – an instrument that is so close to the ancient Romanian shepherd’s pipe) ...". The first part of his Cantabile et Presto features a lovely melody, here played with the utmost sensitivity. The presto part is a kind of scherzo with both instruments twisting fanciful garlands around each other.

César Franck’s violin sonata lends itself to transcriptions for other instruments; there exist versions for cello and viola and it sounds equally well on the flute, especially with Kinga’s singing tone. The contemplative cantilenas of the third movement suit the flute particularly well. While some of the more dramatic outbursts here lack the last ounce of intensity this is hardly the fault of the player. Franck conceived this music for the violin with its wider scope of dynamics and variation of tone colour. Kinga Práda plays with total conviction and an intensity of her own, well judged within the limitations of the instrument. The finale with its dialogue in canon between the two instruments is highly entertaining.

Barber’s Canzone is also an arrangement – by himself – of the theme from the second part of his piano concerto. There is an impressionist feeling about the music, the chromatics have a whiff of Debussy; a touch of "Syrinx with piano". It is a lovely piece that I own in several recordings and although I have never heard it performed live I have always thought that it would make a perfect late night encore: "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for coming, but now it’s bed-time!"

German-born flautist Franz Doppler spent most of his life in Hungary and was influenced by the music of the country. Fantasie Pastorale Hongroise has a strong Hungarian flavour, especially the more rapid second part. It is first and foremost a virtuoso piece, and Kinga negotiates the pyrotechnics with ease. Great entertainment again!

I suspect that the Dutch composer and flautist Jules Auguste Edouard Demerssemann is just as unknown to many readers as he was to me, so a few biographical notes may not be out of place. He was born on 9 January 1833 in Hondschoote, Netherlands. From 1844 he studied with Tulou at the Paris Conservatory and won his first award in 1845. He was a great virtuoso but since he insisted on using the "old" flute with eight keys he was regarded as old-fashioned and thus was not considered for several teaching positions. Most of his oeuvre comprises virtuoso pieces for the instrument. He died on 1 December 1866 in Paris. Just like the Doppler piece his Solo de concert No. 6 is mainly an excuse for showing off the soloist’s technical brilliance. It has a catchy enough central theme - a kind of jolly marching song. At 5:06 there is a lead over to a lyrical intermezzo in what sounds like ¾ time and at 7:46 it’s time for a rousing finale. I wouldn’t rank this as essential music but it is great fun to listen to and Kinga Práda’s playing is masterly – and when does she breathe?

The main reason for acquiring this disc is the superb playing of Kinga Práda. Some of the repertoire is rather lightweight but interesting for readers on the look-out for musical byways. The Enescu piece is a charmer.

Göran Forsling

 

 



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