Croatian composer Dora Pejačević was a fascinating figure. A member of the nobility, she started composing in 1897 when she was 12 years old. Although she was only 38 when she died in 1923, she left behind a body of work that’s impressive for its quantity and quality.
This release focuses on a minor portion of her output, the works for violin and piano. As I listened to this disc, I was struck with the overarching beauty of Pejačević’s melodies. Sometimes, as in the case of the Élégie in E-flat (1913) they were simple yet expressive tunes. Many times, though, I heard distinctively Slavic turns of phrase. The 1917 Sonata in B-flat major, the “Slavic Sonata” is an obvious example. It reminded quite strongly of works by Joseph Suk and George Enescu with its exotic harmonies and evocative melodies.
Violinist Andreg Bielow and pianist Oliver Triendl give this music their best. Bielow’s tone in the 1909 Sonata in D major is limpid and lyrical without sounding cloying. He and Triendl seem to be of one mind in their interpretations, making the performances (as well as the compositions) a joy to listen to.
Pejačević is remembered for introducing orchestral song to Croatian music. And while these works are neither orchestral nor songs, they all have melodies that sing. And do so in an utterly charming fashion. Now, to track down that recording of Pejačević’s symphony…
Dora Pejačević: Works for Violin and Piano
Sonata in D major, Op. 26; Canzonetta, Op. 8; Menuet, Op. 18; Romance, Op. 22; Elegie, Op. 34; Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 43 “Slavic”; Meditation, Op. 51
Andrej Bielow, violin; Oliver Triendl, piano
CPO 777 420-2