Through these selected masterpieces of the repertoire for solo cello, Emmanuelle Bertrand invites us on a journey to the heart of language of popular inspiration.
Composed in 1971 by Benjamin Britten for Mstislav Rostropovich, the Suite for unaccompanied cello No.3 has often been regarded as a sort of private journal of the composer’s, so emotionally charged does it seem. We do not know its exact programme, but the importance of the work’s dedicatee cannot be underestimated in view of the references it contains. It comprises nine movements, the principal elements of which come from three Russian folk themes arranged by Tchaikovsky in his volumes of folksongs for piano and a funeral hymn from the Orthodox liturgy, the Kontakion.
The masterpiece of the Catalan composer Gaspar Cassadó, the Suite for cello composed in 1925 is well known to exponents of the instrument for its virtuoso demands. Its three movements are based on three Spanish folk dances.
Pascal Amoyel’s Itinérance (2003) derives its context above all from a joint project of the composer-pianist and Emmanuelle Bertrand entitled ‘Block 15’, which generated a series of staged concerts based on the testimony of two survivors of Auschwitz concentration camp, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and Simon Laks; both musicians, they explain in their writings how music and its special status in the camps saved their lives.
The programme ends with Kodály’s Sonata Op.8, probably the most remarkable and most frequently played chamber work of the Hungarian composer. The formal simplicity of its three movements contrasts with the extraordinary technical challenges their inventiveness poses for the interpreter.
Discovered when she won the young soloist category at the Victoires de la Musique Classique in 2001, Emmanuelle Bertrand is one of today’s leading cellists. Her penchant for contemporary music has led her to give the first performances of numerous works dedicated to her, among them pieces by Édith Canat de Chizy, Pascal Amoyel, and Bernard Cavanna (Shanghai Concerto).
A passionate devotee of chamber music and member of the ensemble Les Violoncelles Français, she has appeared in duo repertoire with the pianist Pascal Amoyel since 1999. Her harmonia mundi recordings as a soloist or in tandem with Amoyel have all received prestigious critical accolades in France and abroad.