This June marks five decades after the death of the conductor and cellist par excellence, Pau Casals, who, in addition to standing out in music, also did so as a defender of democracy. And it is no coincidence that the one chosen to commemorate his memory, within the Pau Casals Diada – Barcelona 2023, has been Pablo Ferrández from Madrid, who, in addition to receiving the 2012 Pau Casals Scholarship for his prodigious talent, has had the Vendrell maestro as benchmark since its inception.
On June 15, in the Orfeó Català hall of the Palau de la Música, Ferrandez will perform accompanied by the pianist Luis del Valle, an accomplice musician, with whom he will address a program that will revive the memory of Casals with variations that will go from Beethoven to Shostakóvich. The concert-tribute will be preceded by a meeting between the Madrid performer and young musicians, to whom he will talk about his musical career and will travel back in time to remember how Casals has become a source of inspiration for today’s artists.
What makes Ferrández so special is his musical quality. His ability to make the cello sing with his fingers”
Protégé of the violinist Anne Sophie Mutter, with whom he has recorded his first joint album with the double concert of Brahms and the piano trio by Schumann in collaboration with the Czech Philharmonic (Sony Classical), the young Ferrández has taken his music all over the world, sharing stages with other international performers.
But, as the Fundació Pau Casals suggests, he was predestined for success, since he was born with a cello in his hands and his family transmitted to him the spirit of Casals which, fused with the influences of the Russian school, made him take off until he became a the captivating performer that he is now.
“What makes him such a special musician is his musical quality, the ability to make his cello sing with his fingers. He is capable of varying the vibrato in amplitude and not being monotonous”, recalled the musical adviser of the Pau Casals Foundation. , Bernard Meillat.
The program that Ferrández will present at the opening concert of the Diada includes the works Kol Nidrei op. 47 by Max Brunch, the Sonata in D minor, op. 40 of Shostakovich and the Variations on a Theme by Mozart (The Magic Flute’) by Beethoven, which will be a wonderful contrast to the Sonata in A minor by Cesar Frank.
On Saturday, June 17, there will be a popular concert by the Camerata del Conservatori Municipal de Música de Barcelona (CMMB), directed by David Olmedo. The Orquestra Montsalvatge de l’IEA Oriol Martorell will also perform, conducted by Heriberto Fonseca; the VOZES Orchestra, under the direction of Pablo Gonzáles, and a group of 32 cellists who are teachers and students of the main conversatories and music schools in Catalonia. The latter, directed by Antoni Ros Marbà. This concert will be held at the Eduard Toldrà Auditorium of the CMMB.
Casals continues to keep his flame burning so that the new generations can count on him
It was 1934 when Barcelona named cellist Pablo Casals an adoptive son, awarding him the City Medal and naming an avenue in his name. Not only because of his ability to explore the infinite possibilities of one piece, but also because of his fight for democracy. “Casals continues to keep his flame burning so that the new generations can count on him”, pointed out the general director of the Pau Casals Foundation, Jordi Pardo. “Casals shares a great bond with the Palau de la Música. His orchestra had his headquarters here, where he performed and rehearsed.”
The maestro created the Associació Obrera de Concerts in 1926 to bring music closer to the working class and participated in helping Catalan and Spanish refugees during the Franco dictatorship. During his career, he tirelessly fought for democracy and human rights. He played at the United Nations headquarters several times or at the White House, before John F. Kennedy.
Five decades after his death, the flame of Pau Casals continues to be fanned in museums, festivals and auditoriums in Catalonia, France, Germany, the United States, Puerto Rico and Japan. Not only as a musician, but as a humanist: “My contribution to world peace may be small, but I have given everything I could to achieve an ideal that I consider sacred.”