This project undertakes some of the repertoire written for cello and piano during the first two decades of the 20th century. Selecting the contributions of the composer Andrés Gaos Berea as our point of departure, we situate them in context with other works written by four different composers from France, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Spain.
Andrés Gaos (1874-1959) was a violinist, composer and teacher born in A Coruña and settled in Buenos Aires during much of his life. He wrote two pieces for cello and piano. Humoresque, dates from 1905 and lasts approximately 5 minutes. It is a cheerful and light piece, in which the main motive vaguely reminds us of the first of the 5 popular pieces by Schumann (Mit Humor). The two episodes enclosed have a contrasting character, the first being virtuosistic and the second one cantabile. The piece was dedicated to Charles Marchal, a cello teacher and Gaos colleague at the Conservatory founded by Alberto Williams in Buenos Aires. Chant élégiaque, with an approximate duration of 8 minutes, dates from 1917 and was dedicated to Pau Casals. With a deeply romantic character, the piece has impressionist reminiscences and harmonies that slightly evokes Fauré’s music. Casals never performed Chant élégiaque and the piece became part of the repertoire used in his lessons by Charles Marchal.
The English composer Frank Bridge (1879-1941) composed his 4 pieces separately between 1901 and 1910. Although originally written for cello and piano, several different versions were published ranging from solo piano to symphony orchestra. These are short pieces with a calm and serene character. Berceuse dates from 1901, Serenade is from 1903, Élégie from 1904 and Cradle Song is dated 1910.
Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), considered by many to be “the best musical pedagogue that ever existed”, wrote her 3 pieces for cello and piano in 1914. The first of them, Moderé, lasts approximately 3 minutes and brings to our mind a transparent and impressionistic atmosphere. The second one, Sans vitesse, et á l’aise, brings us back to modal music and has a medieval inspiration. The most brilliant is clearly the third and last one, Vite et nerveusement rythmé, full of humorous twists and with an ironic and sharp character.
Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) composed the Adagio for violin and piano in 1905 and dedicated this piece to the exceptional violinist Imre Waldbauer. In 1910 the composer published the versions for viola and cello. The piece shows a reflective and almost intimate character, which is not unusual in Kodaly’s music. However we don’t find in this piece the strengh on the rhythmic turns of Hungarian music that we often find in other works of this composer.
Although Enrique Granados (1867-1916) wrote 3 original pieces for cello and piano: Trova, Madrigal and Danza Andaluza. But probably the 1923 transcription by Gaspar Cassadó of the Intermezzo from the opera Goyescas is the most popular piece among cellists nowadays. And it is not surprising given that, as usually in the music arranged by this great Spanish cellist, we find a perfectly adequate adaptation to the instrument’s register and in which, in addition to clearly identifying the elegant and proud character of Spanish music, the cello exhibits its whole tone potential.