Beatriz Blanco & Federico Bosco - A MON AMI
- 01 – CHOPIN – Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor Op. 65 – I. Allegro Moderato
- 02 – CHOPIN – Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor Op. 65 – II. Scherzo
- 03 – CHOPIN – Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor Op. 65 – III. Largo
- 04 – CHOPIN – Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor Op. 65 – IV. Finale
- 05 – FRANCHOMME – Three themes with variations Op. 22 – I. Donizetti
- 06 – FRANCHOMME – Three themes with variations Op. 22 – II. Beethoven
- 07 – FRANCHOMME – Three themes with variations Op. 22 – III. Bellini
- 08 – CHOPIN-FRANCHOMME – Grand Duo from themes of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable in E Major
- 09 – FRANCHOMME – Gran duo from a motive of Anna Bolena Op. 23
- 10 – CHOPIN – Introduction and Polonesa Brillante in C major Op. 3
BEATRIZ BLANCO & FEDERICO BOSCO – A MON AMI
Chopin & Franchomme: Works for Cello and Piano
Award-winning duo Beatriz Blanco (cello) and Federico Bosco (piano) have devoted their debut CD with Odradek Records to an exploration of the music and friendship of Chopin and Franchomme.
Chopin’s piano music is justly celebrated, but his music for cello and piano is less well known. Any listeners unfamiliar with this facet of Chopin’s repertoire are bound to be delighted by this disc. His enchanting Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, written early in his career, opens with a witty Introduction in which the cello plays with our expectations before unfolding a gorgeous, singing melody. A perfect choice for a Polish composer such as Chopin, the Polonaise (Polish dance) sparkles with vivacious musical conversation.
Chopin was inspired to write his Cello Sonata for Auguste Franchomme, whom he had met in 1832. Franchomme was an outstanding cellist who became one of Chopin’s best and most loyal friends. The Sonata is one of Chopin’s later works, and was performed by Franchomme at Chopin’s final concert in Paris. The opening movement is noble and rich, with the autumnal melancholy one would expect from a composer nearing the end of his life. Yet the lively Scherzo demonstrates that Chopin’s powers were undiminished, the two instruments intertwining in music of mercurial intricacy. The Largo is Chopin at his best: an exquisitely-judged haven of tranquillity. For the finale, he unleashes music of rhythmic vigour and complexity, the cello-writing showing that, with Franchomme’s help, Chopin’s understanding of the instrument had reached its peak.
Franchomme was a composer in his own right, and his rarely-heard Three Themes, based on music by Donizetti, Beethoven, and Bellini, represent one of the CD’s highlights. Franchomme also collaborated with Chopin on the charming Grand Duo based on themes from Meyerbeer’s opera, Robert le Diable. The work begins with the impressive piano introduction one might expect from Chopin, before Franchomme’s cello part joins in to create a duet of melodic richness and beauty.
The piano used in this recording is a “double piano” manufactured by Pleyel in 1898.
Program notes by Joanna Wyld.
“… a CD that is remarkable because of the ongoing dialogue between the instruments, presenting us with fine phrasing and with a warm sound, transporting us to those old Parisian halls where Frédéric and Auguste shared their music.”
Da Capo al fine - Lucía Martín / 5 April 2016
"A mon ami is a monument to friendship, more specifically, to that shared by Frédéric Chopin and the French cellist Auquste Franchomme; a tribute to the special relationship that linked them from when they met in 1832 until the Polish man’s death. Reminiscent of this historic duo, cellist Beatriz Blanco and the pianist Federico Bosco conjure up this complicity and understanding in music that is full of both, as well as intimacy and passion.
… We find ourselves experiencing a CD that is remarkable because of the ongoing dialogue between the instruments, presenting us with fine phrasing and with a warm sound, transporting us to those old Parisian halls where Frédéric and Auguste shared their music."
“The cellist manages, with her lavish, solar sound, without being demonstrative or bombastic, sometimes to reflect the fire, sometimes the serenity of the Chopin sonata… A great success for our promising young duo”.
Classica - Edouard Niqueux / October 2016
"Without meeting Franchomme, Chopin would probably not have composed his great sonata for piano and cello... This meeting on disc between the two musicians is natural and magnified by the playing of two young performers.
The cellist manages, with her lavish, solar sound, without being demonstrative or bombastic, sometimes to reflect the fire, sometimes the serenity of the Chopin sonata. Her masterful vibrato, rendered mechanically by many performers, here is remarkable and makes an extremely effective expressive tool. The free "authenticity” of the cellist (she recorded Bach and Barrière) is without doubt worth something. A quality audibly shared by Frederico Bosco, who plays on a double Pleyel piano of 1898 (two pianos, placed oppositely engaged one in the other) creating intimate sounds less bright than a modern instrument...
A great success for our promising duo makes its mark among a large discography… Promising."
PERFORMANCE: THREE STARS
RECORDING: FOUR STARS
“Fine performances… they round off the disc with Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise Brillante in C played with elegance and style.”
BBC Music Magazine - Rebecca Franks / August 2016
PERFORMANCE: THREE STARS
RECORDING: FOUR STARS
“Is this period authenticity or pure historical whimsy? Here we have Chopin’s Cello Sonata with the pianist playing an 1898 ‘double piano’, a curious invention by Pleyel, only six of which survive in playable condition today. It’s essentially two pianos housed within one case, which, says cellist Beatriz Blanco, gives a ‘full rich sound — an ideal choice for this repertoire’. It’s a fun idea. And Chopin loved Pleyel pianos. But why not include music for two pianists so we could get the full effect? Soft-edged and resonant, the double piano makes a mellow partner to Blanco’s dusky cello tone but I’m not sure its thick sound, closely recorded, does anything to help the cello sing through Chopin’s already dense textures. If it’s historic pianos that you want, try Ophélie Gaillard and Edna Stern (Aparté) or Pieter Wispelwey and Paolo Giacometti (Onyx Classics).
A mon ami, as you’ve probably already guessed, is also a portrait of a friendship. Auguste Franchomme was a distinguished French cellist, friend and inspiration to Chopin, and composer of appealing, though hardly profound cello works. Here we have his easy-listening Three Themes with Variations on Donizetti, Beethoven and Bellini, and his sparkling Grand duo from a motive of Anna Bolena; so more Franchomme than on Sol Gabetta’s similarly-themed album (Sony), but a long way off Louise Dubin’s The Franchomme Project (Delos). Fine performances, but it all feels rather flimsy after the Sonata. Still, they round off the disc with Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise Brillante in C played with elegance and style.”
“Blanco and Bosco are an ideal match (as were the reserved, reﬁned Chopin and Franchomme). Blanco’s unforced, burnished tone is a joy to hear, underpinned by Bosco’s quirky choice of an 1898 Pleyel double piano… polished, understated music-making…”
Gramophone - Jeremy Nicholas / June 2016
“The two works Chopin wrote for cello and piano at either end of his career are here placed in reverse order of composition, with the Gran duo concertante positioned in the middle. The latter was written in 1833 in collaboration with Chopin’s close friend Auguste Franchomme (1808-84), to whom he dedicated his Op 65 Sonata (hence the disc’s title). Franchomme, the leading cellist of his day, who died of a massive heart attack just four days after receiving the Légion d’honneur, also rewrote the cello part of Op 3 and produced a number of transcriptions of Chopin’s works.
It is not these that Beatriz Blanco and Federico Bosco have chosen as the conventional makeweights of this programme but two of Franchomme’s own (rarely heard) compositions. His Three Themes with Variations takes an air by Donizetti, another by Beethoven and a third by Bellini, and presents a short series of variations on each (4'41", 4’24" and 5'43" respectively), attractive, undemanding (for the listener, not the player) and quite unmemorable. Much better is his Duo concertant sur un motif d’Anna Bolena, using another of Donizetti’s melodies and written in collaboration with the Irish composer-pianist George Osborne (1806-93). If you like Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata or Vieuxtemps’s more virtuoso writing for the instrument, then Franchomme is sure to appeal.
Blanco and Bosco are an ideal match (as were the reserved, reﬁned Chopin and Franchomme). Blanco’s unforced, burnished tone is a joy to hear, underpinned by Bosco’s quirky choice of an 1898 Pleyel double piano (two pianos housed in one body, each with its own set of strings and pedals). The plus sides of this are the piquant colours on offer and the jaunty, almost percussive edge it gives to certain sections of the Meyerbeer and Anna Bolena pieces; the downsides are some exposed solo passages at forte and above when the Pleyel sounds like a straight-strung pub piano — not enough to spoil one’s enjoyment of the polished, understated music-making but enough to take your mind off the musical flow for a moment.”
“This duo is so musically magnetic… This album will provide many hours of fulfilling and fascinating listening pleasure.”
Roberta on the Arts - Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower / 23 July 2017
“Odradek is a non-profit, artist controlled label. According to Odradek’s website, “Odradek Records selects its artists solely through the criterion of utmost quality of the recording and the interest of the proposed program. We don’t want to exclude, but rather include.” Its name is sourced from a Kafka short story about a creature whose meaning inspires many interpretations. is a project of two friends, Beatriz Blanco, cellist, and Federico Bosco, pianist. Ms. Blanco performs on a 1720 C. Pierray, Parisian cello, while Mr. Bosco performs on an 1898 Pleyel “double piano”.
This album is a tribute to the deep friendship between Auguste Franchomme, cellist and composer, and Frédéric Chopin, pianist and composer. The Pleyel piano heard on this recording is significant, because the first four tracks of this album are devoted to Chopin’s 1846 Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor. Chopin premiered the last three movements of this work at his final public concert in 1848, at the Parisian concert hall, called the Salle Pleyel. Chopin favored the Pleyel pianos. Franchomme, on his cello, joined Chopin onstage in the Sonata premiere, at Chopin’s historical farewell concert. The work was dedicated to Franchomme. Chopin composed only four Sonatas, the other three for solo piano.
A trio of Franchomme’s variations of airs by Donizetti, Beethoven, and Bellini are heard on tracks #5-7. Each has lovely, tonal details and imaginative aural imagery. On track #8, you will hear the Chopin – Franchomme Grand Duo from the Meyerbeer opera, Robert le diable, noted below, and track #9 features the Franchomme (and Osborne) Gran Duo, inspired by the opera, Anna Bolena, also noted below. Track #10 closes this remarkable album with the ravishing Chopin Polonesa Brillante, noted below as well.
#4 – ”Finale”, Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor (1846) – Composed by Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849). This fourth and final movement of Chopin’s Sonata opens like a frenetic keyboard chase scene, with swirling dervish. Ms. Blanco’s sensuous cello exudes yearning repetitions. Mr. Bosco’s Pleyel double piano has stunning sound, and one can only imagine Chopin on his Pleyel in 1848, performing this work in such a weakened condition next to Franchomme, on cello, shortly before his 1849 death from tuberculosis. Mr. Bosco plays with compelling force and clarity. Ms. Blanco’s 300 year-old Pierray cello, as well, has deep, intense soulfulness. Then, at one point, the cello expands toward the upper range of a violin. Balletic rhythms and drama add to this incredible listening experience. This finale ends in fevered instrumental fusion.
#8 – Grand Duo from themes of Meyerbeer’s “Robert le diable” in E major (1833) - Composed by Frédéric Chopin and Auguste Franchomme (1808-1884). Franchomme collaborated with the youthful Chopin to assist him in composing the cello parts of this Grand Duo, based on Mayerbeer’s opera, as Franchomme was a cellist in the Ópera orchestra. The piano introduction extends almost two minutes. Listening to this track, one immediately wishes to hear this music live in concert, as this duo is so musically magnetic. The operatic themes are differentiated for the inherent scenes, yet for pure instrumental listening, the experience is tremendously engaging. I look forward to exploring this opera.
#9 – Gran Duo from a motive of “Anna Bolena” (1841) – Composed by Auguste Franchomme [with George Alexander Osborne (1806-1893)] . Franchomme collaborated on this Gran Duo with the Irish composer-pianist Osborne. Osborne had been a patron of Chopin, during a performance tour by Chopin in England. In operatic fervor and tonal innuendo, Ms. Blanco and Mr. Bosco bring us this theatrical track. The pulsating tempos with percussive inflections are mesmerizing. The finale, as well, is sumptuously operatic, as one can imagine the audience in extended accolades after the final fused aria, here portrayed on the rare and transporting piano and cello.
#10 – Introduction and Polonesa Brillante in C major (1831) – Composed by Frédéric Chopin. This early composition by Chopin was dedicated to the Austrian cellist Joseph Merk, who performed the cello part with Chopin in concert. This was a couple of years prior to Chopin’s meeting Franchomme. The dancelike, swirling imagery is enthralling in the listening experience. Waterfalls of crisp piano notes, like a rushing stream in spring, are rampant throughout this dynamic youthful work. The Polonaise had been composed in 1829, with the Introduction added in 1830. This album will provide many hours of fulfilling and fascinating listening pleasure.
Kudos to Ms. Blanco and Mr. Bosco, and kudos to Odradek.