It’s April, so our Video of the Week will take us to Paris, for a charming piece by French composer Gabriel Fauré: His Papillon, or “Butterfly,” a breathtakingly virtuosic piece for cello and piano.
“Butterfly or dungfly, call it what you like,” the composer wrote to his publisher Hamelle in 1884. The publisher had been hounding him for a followup cello piece after the success of his Élégie from a few years before.
Both piece were frequently played on recital programs by the great cellist and humanitarian Pablo Casals, with whom Peabody Conservatory and Heifetz Institute cellist Amit Peled has a special kinship. He tells NPR: “I would call him the grandfather of classical music of the 20th century — not just for cellists He really shaped what we know today of how to make a phrase, and was a bridge from the old times, from romantic music, to our day. He played the Brahms Sonata for Brahms. I mean, that link is something that you can’t stop thinking about.”
Recently Amit Peled became the recipient of a once-in-a-lifetime honor: He now performs on Casals’ 1733 Goffriller cello, presented to him by Casal’s widow. The Casals cello came to Staunton in the summer of 2015, where Peled and pianist Stefan Petrov performed a mini-recital of works that Casals often played on this very instrument – including the dazziling Papillon!