Elinor Frey, a true
goddess of the bow

A strong stage presence and a perfectly mastered performance

Par Luc Archambault

A time of discovery, a time of reflection. A time of introspection, a time of meditation. This is what this terrible pandemic will have brought, within this horrible confinement. My personal discovery: the sublime Elinor Frey, extraordinary cellist, guest soloist of Les Idées Heureuses, who dived head first into this solo venture, to the ultimate baroque, with her refined cellos (four strings, exact copy of the Stradivarius “Cristiani” of 1708, made in 2017, and the magnificent baroque 5-string cello, made in 2012, an exact copy of an instrument made by Barak Norman in 1718).

Cellist extraordinaire, guest soloist at Idées Heureuses, who dives head first into the ultimate baroque with her refined cellos.

What a rhythm! What a breath! What emotion! A reading of these six suites that would make many great performers green with envy (to mention only Pierre Fournier, Anner Bylsma or Yo-Yo Ma). Unlike some of these artists, in particular Yo-Yo Ma, who attacks these suites with a slightly fast tempo, Frey takes her time, letting these melodies slowly infuse, bringing out all the emotions resulting from this process.

Elinor Frey - Les Idées Heureuses

What a majestic interpretation! Particularly suites 3 and 6, which aroused in me waves of emotions that were barely kept beneath the surface. A strong on-stage presence, cello-playing mastered to perfection, incandescent, a sound magma of the most crystalline, in short, perfection (even if this cannot possibly exist in this somewhat very sad reality lacking such blessings). Thank you Mrs Solly for this immersion in a paradise from which it will be very difficult for us mortals to come down from.

And Elinor Frey does not only play as a soloist, she also participates fully in the group Pallade Musica (music by Athena), with Tanya LaPerrière (violin and viola d’amore), and Mélisande McNabney (pianoforte). Absent for this concert: Esteban La Rotta (theorbo).

The concert Les Bohémiennes was centered on the music of Bohemia-Moravia (or inspired by this region). A compilation of popular Romanian songs by Béla Bartók, a trio for piano, violin and cello by Jan Ladislav Dussek, a sonata for viola d’amore and bass by Carl Stamitz, a prelude for piano by Leopold Koželuch, and finally the trio for piano, violin and cello nº 39 (Hob. XV, 25, “Trio Tzigane”) by Joseph Haydn.

This last piece, the least gypsy sounding of the concert, seemed to me the least interesting of all this journey, because of its well-know stature. I mean, not all of us have exploration inscribed deep in our souls. This concert, followed by a discussion moderated by the journalist Frédéric Cardin, revealed to us some small pearls of information: this pianoforte, possession of Mélisande McNabney, which is a replica of the pianoforte produced in Vienna during Mozart’s time… or this viola d’amore, a resolutely singular instrument, played by Tanya LaPerrière.


The complete 6 suites for Solo Violoncello (BWV 1007-1012) by JS Bach (Elinor Frey) and Les Bohémiennes (Pallade Musica)

Fortunalety, for anyone who hasn’t had the chance or the privilege to attend these concerts, web-broadcasts are available.

For the concert Bach solo: the complete 6 suites for cello (BWV 1007-1013), it is available until May 31st at http://ideesheureuses.ca

For the concert Les Bohémiennes, it is available until May 19th at http://mbam.qc.ca

Images : Courtesy of Elinor Frey

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Luc Archambault WestmountMag.ca

Luc Archambault, writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal from an extensive stay in China to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.

Clearly has launched Reincarnate, Frames made from Recycled Plastic.

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  1. Caroline Jondahl

    While the cello has long been my instrument of preference, because of M. Archambault’s incisive description of Elinor Frey, I am eager to spend some special time with this musician, now intriqued to experience her “crystalline and masterful” way.

    Thank you for featuring music, a most welcome respite from the pressing issues of the day.

    Sincerely, Caroline Jondahl

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