Our idea is to hop here and there across a geographical map, by way of pieces from the chamber music repertoire of various European countries.
As with a food tour, we’ve come up with a route that will let you enjoy the sounds and atmosphere of various European musical cultures, using your ears.
Like “foodies” on the lookout for the most traditional ingredients and recipes, we have targeted our search and, as much as possible, chosen pieces from folk tradition reworked by great classical composers, and pieces affected by cross-cutting influences in the music and/or the text.
We have delved into material from the French chamber repertoire to find alternative situations all too seldom offered to the public.
We have sifted through the pages of various national composers, from Spain to the Eastern countries, from Norway to Greece, choosing small areas outside the sphere of opera, drawn more by the rich expressive potential of German lieder, French chanson and mélodies Spanish canciones populares and folk songs from Eastern European countries.
We came up with the idea of fun with flags as a visual representation of this galivanting about musical Europe, as part of a hypothetical performance project, not merely a succession of executions of musical pieces.
Each piece “unfurls” the flag of its country, often two flags together if the composer was from one country but composed on literary texts from another country, or used material from musical traditions of a country other than his own.
For example, “Mélodies populaires grecques” by the French Maurice Ravel or the “Italian Songbook” by the Austrian Hugo Wolf: In the first case, the flags of France and Greece are “played with”; in the second, it is those of Italy and Austria. This musical journey becomes a kind of sound kaleidoscope.
The greatest difficulty in charting this journey lay in the aspect of language.
Besides the translation work necessary for an understanding of the text, we have boldly chosen to perform the individual pieces in the original languages, a common practice for German, French or Spanish, but certainly less frequent with languagessuch as Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech or Polish.
And along with the study of pronunciation, we have tried, through pitches and sounds, to render as much as possible the musical “flavour” of each individual country, certainly aided by the beauty of this music by great composers such as Chopin, Ravel, Wolf, Dvorak, Verdi, Cornelius, Montsalvatge, Grieg, Obradors, Satie, Bartok, Britten and Stravinsky.