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Composer’s note on Ricercar (2015)
I have always been drawn to music of the Baroque period. I grew up playing Bach, first on piano, later on the harpsichord. I love the sound of the Baroque cello, so I was very excited to write this new work for Elinor Frey (commissioned by Daniel Cooper). I think of this piece as a melody in search of its harmony. There is a dance-like melodic line at the beginning; it becomes lost into spareness and stillness, and later there is the appearance of a melodic chain of chords. My thanks go to Elinor Frey for suggesting the title (Ricercar means “to search out”), and for her beautiful interpretation of my music.
—Linda Catlin Smith
Fascinated by the cello’s origins and the creative process of new music, Elinor Frey plays both period and modern instruments. Her recent release on the Belgian label Passacaille, Berlin Sonatas with Lorenzo Ghielmi on fortepiano, was nominated for a Juno award for Best Classical CD, Solo & Chamber Music and won the 2015 Québec Opus Prize for Early Music CD of the year. Her first Baroque CD, La voce del violoncello, was praised for its “careful scholarship and brilliant layering of moods and tempos” (Toronto Star) and for the “honest, reflective beauty of her music making” (Strings). Her performance of this program was the winner of the public prize at the 2013 Utrecht Early Music Festival Fringe. Frey’s debut album, Dialoghi, is titled for the solo piece written for her by Steven Stucky.
Frey’s honours include a US-Italy Fulbright Fellowship, during which she studied baroque cello with Paolo Beschi, as well as the SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, and grants from the American Musicological Society and the Canada Council for the Arts facilitating her work on Italian cello music. In recent seasons she has performed with Les Idées heureuses, Il Gardellino, Ensemble Caprice, Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, Arion, and Theatre of Early Music, as well as with her quartet, Pallade Musica, grand prize winners of the 2012 Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition and second prize winners in the 2014 International Van Wassenaer Competition in Utrecht. Frey holds degrees from McGill, Mannes, and Juilliard.
June 29, 2017Music
Elinor Frey opens our season with two of J. S. Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello – sisters to the work that inspired the Toronto Music Garden. Bach’s boundless musical imagination is on full display in the dark introspection of the Suite No. 2 in D Minor (BWV 1008), and the complex, nuanced nobility of Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major (BWV 1010). Between these two pillars of the cello repertoire, Ms. Frey performs Ricercar (2015) for solo cello, by Toronto composer Linda C. Smith.
Judy and Wilmot Matthews