Dora PEJAČEVIC (1885-1923)
Trio in C, for violin, cello and piano, op.29 (1910) [35:27]
Sonata in E minor, for cello and piano, op.35 (1913) [28:12]
Andrej Bielow (violin); Christian Poltéra (cello); Oliver Triendl (piano)
rec. Chamber Music Studio, Südwestrundfunk, Stuttgart, 8-10 June 2008. DDD
CPO 777 419-2 [63:57]
Like Naxos, CPO often go where other labels dare not tread for fear of losing serious money. The 19th and early 20th centuries in particular are a minefield: probably still the most recorded period, and constituting the keystone of concert and chamber repertoires - what room could there be for an obscure Croatian composer, female, short-lived, whose music must compete with Mahler, Strauss, Stravinsky and Ives?
Well, room must simply be made. Recent CPO-featured composers like Bernhard Molique (review), Paul Graener (review), Ernst Toch (review) and Hermann Wetzler (review) have not altered music history like the aforementioned did, but their works can often be just as aesthetically pleasing - if not more so. Such is certainly the case with Dora Pejačevic's Piano Trio op.29 and her Cello Sonata op.35 - the thought that, were it not for CPO's boldness, these radiant, passionate, supremely lyrical works might never have been recorded or even performed again, is sobering.
So immediately appealing indeed are these works that the listener will feel as if (s)he has always known them, especially the Piano Trio. Though the music is reminiscent here and there of Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Dvorák or Grieg, these are not pale imitations of the great works of the chamber repertoire: Pejačevic's ear for exquisite, complementary lines and her attention to detail are hugely impressive, central to her claim to originality.
Pejačevic followed these chamber works with some of her best orchestral music. Her substantial Symphony in F sharp minor and her Phantasie Concertante for piano and orchestra were released earlier in 2011 by CPO (review) in the first of what is, with any luck, a long discography devoted to Pejačevic's works: CPO promise in fact to "dedicate a comprehensive edition to her".
Pejačevic's music is being promoted by the Croatian Music Information Centre, co-sponsors of this CD. The MIC has published some of her scores, as well as a detailed online biography in English, which includes poignant extracts from private correspondence, several short samples of her music and a presumably complete list of works, which sadly stops at op.58: Pejačevic died in her prime from complications arising from the birth of her first child after marrying in her mid-thirties.
Andrej Bielow, Christian Poltéra and Oliver Triendl perform Pejačevic's music with great expressiveness, self-evidently taking great pleasure from Pejačevic's almost limitless supply of beautiful melodies for all three soloists. Poltéra's tone in particular is marvellous.
As usual at SWR in Stuttgart, the studio recording is beautifully balanced and generally superb. The trilingual booklet notes are detailed and informative, albeit tending towards the academic. Though French readers are fortunate enough to benefit from a native speaker for translation purposes, English readers must once again make do with a competent but imperfect German translator - meaning that some of the phraseology is rather light-headed, with numerous sentences Teutonically stilted in register.
The circumstances of Pejačevic's death are among the most heart-breaking of any composer, but at least now this genial music can live on in the memory of all those who experience it.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
Radiant, passionate, supremely lyrical.