Exactly one year ago, under the frescoes of the Scuola Grande San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice, the pianist Ismaël Margain and the Hanson String Quartet, invited by the Palazzetto Bru Zane, made us discover with wonder the Grande Fantaisie-Quintet by Rita Strohl (1865-1941).
And now, this Saturday, April 1, in the same inspiring places, the composer was again in the spotlight: the Palazzetto, which strives to revive the treasures of French romantic music, confided to the cellist Yan Levionnois and the pianist Adam Laloum his Romance without words entitled Nostalgia.
As last year, the listener was immediately struck by the melodious lyricism of the piece, the expressive nobility of the song, the very fine color chart of this short page that Rita Strohl wanted to see played with a bow “soft with great feeling sadness “.
At the end of the concert devoted to several female composers, including the very gifted Mel Bonis (1858-1937), the public demanded an “bis”. Yan Levionnois and Adam Laloum, joined by violinist Pierre Fouchenneret and violist Lise Berthaud, gave the floor again to… Rita Strohl. The slow movement of his Piano Quartet confirmed, from its first bars, the emotional power of an artist who deserves to figure prominently in music history textbooks.
Strong character and inquisitive mind
Admitted to the Paris Conservatory at the age of 13, this excellent pianist was held in high esteem by her most eminent male colleagues such as Camille Saint-Saëns, Vincent d’Indy or Gabriel Fauré…
An enterprising woman, she launched her Théâtre de la Grange in 1912, which was supported in particular by the painter Odilon Redon; curious and open-minded, she was passionate about extra-European cultures and spiritualities, sometimes slipping into esotericism, which she made her musical honey. Its catalog includes chamber pieces, symphonic works, lyrical works, choral pages, melodies, including Les Chansons de Bilitis on erotic poems by Pierre Louÿs which also inspired Claude Debussy.
Leading the way, the rehabilitation of Rita Strohl by the Palazzetto Bru Zane is only in its infancy. We form the ardent wish that it will now be relayed, shared, amplified by concert halls, festivals, musical institutions.
When will we see his lyrical drama La Femme pécheresse or his mystical cycle in seven parts, Le Suprême Purusha? The obsolescence of their titles hides many melodious jewels and just as many harmonic gems.