A couple of months
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.
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.
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!"
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
From 1844 he studied with
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.