Kajana Pačko, cello | Danijel Detoni, piano

Date created: 22.02.2023.
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Kajana Pačko, cello

Danijel Detoni, piano



Dubravko Detoni:

Assonance 1, for Cello and Piano


Ludwig van Beethoven: 

Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5, No. 1

Adagio sostenuto - Allegro

Rondo. Allegro vivace


Johannes Brahms: 

Six songs (Arranged by Norbert Salter/ David Geringas)

Feldeinsamkeit, op. 86/2;
Wie Melodien, op. 105/1;
Sapphische Ode, op. 94/4;
Wiegenlied, op. 49/4;
Liebestreu, op.
Minnelied, op.

Dora Pejačević:

Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Op. 35

Allegro moderato
Scherzo. Allegro
Adagio sostenuto
Allegro comodo




Notes by Dina Puhovski

Croatian composer, pianist and writer Dubravko Detoni (Križevci, 1937) is the author of 170 opuses of orchestral, chamber, solo, vocal and electronic music, numerous multimedia projects and experiments, thirteen books of poetry, prose, essays, journals and travel books, radio and television programmes, numerous concert and album reviews and a longtime associate of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (from 2000 to 2010). He has received around forty national and international music awards and recognitions for his exceptionally prolific and successful work (Vladimir Nazor Award, Josip Štolcer Slavenski Award, six Porin Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Zvono Lotrščak Award, Matica hrvatska and JRT Awards, Grand Prix at the 6th Paris Youth Biennale, Premio Italia, UNESCO Award, Bedřich Smetana Award etc.). His works have been performed on all continents, at major festivals, published in Croatia and abroad and and include 66 releases. He equally uses elements of classical and electronic music, often combining them in his efforts to enrich his sound and expand expressive possibilities.

He wrote the following about ASSONANCE 1: ‘The piece was written in Zagreb in 1968 and premiered on 25 October the same year by the cellist Marijan Jerbić and the composer at the Annual Review of Yugoslav Music in Opatija. They repeated the performance at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival on 26 July 1970 on the occasion of the first public performance of the ACEZANTEZ Ensemble; the trombonist Kiril Ribarski and the pianist Milica Šperović-Ribarski performed it at the same festival on 29 July 1982 and again in Dubrovnik on 25 September the same year. In the new century, it was performed several times by the cellist Petra Kušan and the pianist Danijel Detoni, as well as a number of young musicians. The piece is the first part of a triptych of the same title, which includes Assonance 2 for cello and orchestra and Assonance 3 for three cellos.

Assonance 1 has won numerous awards in Croatia and abroad, including the Grand Prix at the 6th Paris Youth Biennale (1969). Like in other two works in this cycle, two fundamental phenomena indicated by the title are examined here: primarily an overtone, an echo, a reaction of silence to the interrupted, stopped sound, and then, borrowed from poetry, incomplete rhymes of multiple lines that complement each other with their asynchronism. The notation of the piece is fixed, although it often seems like an improvisation; it examines the possibilities of increasingly authentic reflecting and blending of tone and sound. Some ten contrasting parts are combined into an indivisible whole, which reveals the efforts of searching for new forms of instrumental virtuosity.’

Ludwig van Beethoven (Bonn, 1770 – Vienna, 1827) is at the same time a representative of Viennese Classicism and a composer on the border between Classicism and Romanticism, who introduced countless innovations in music. He became a symbol of an artist who stays true to his principles even in difficult circumstances, and was, according to Yehudi Menuhin, ‘a giant, inscrutable to most mortals due to his uncompromising power and unobsequious approach to music and people.’

Renowned for his piano skills, young Beethoven was supported by his friends, members of the aristocracy, to whom he often dedicated his works. He started experiencing problems with his hearing as early as 1795, and eventually had to give up public performances, but he compensated for his subsequent isolation with exceptionally developed musical imagination and high technical standards. His musical output is traditionally divided into three periods: the first, which ended around 1802, when he went through a crisis due to loss of hearing and uncertain future, the middle period, in which he wrote ambitious, ‘heroic’ works, and the third period from around 1815, considered more ‘spiritual’, meditative. Franz Liszt named these three periods simply l'adolescent, l'homme, le dieu (youth, man, god).

Although he wrote ‘only’ five sonatas for cello (and ten for violin), they left a significant mark on writing for this instrument. It is considered that Beethoven often used innovative approach in his cello sonatas, while in violin sonatas he only expanded familiar territory. He wrote the two Sonatas, Op. 5, in 1796, in his first period; he dedicated them to Frederick William II, King of Prussia, who played the cello, but they were in fact meant for Duport brothers, his court cellists. Their somewhat unusual formal structure might be the result of Boccherini’s influence; Even in Sonata, Op. 5, No. 1, the ‘brighter’ of the two early sonatas, the main Allegro is preceded by a slow introduction, as if it were a substitute for the slow movement that would be expected afterwards. Both of the following movements are playful and elaborate, requiring virtuosity, the second in a dance 6/8 time. Sonatas, Op. 5, are also significant because they mark the beginning of an era of ‘modern’ cello sonatas, in which this instrument is no longer an accompaniment, a part of the continuo.

Johannes Brahms (Hamburg, 1833 – Vienna, 1897) began his musical training in his hometown and was teaching music and giving piano performances since he was twelve. Brahms’s music as it is known today is most likely only a third of his total output, since he often destroyed the works he did not consider good enough, especially those written in his youth. In an attempt to motivate him, the esteemed violinist and Brahms’s friend Joseph Joachim referred him to Franz Liszt and Robert Schumann. As it turned out, he and Liszt did not have much in common and eventually even became famous opponents, as Brahms was considered a classicist, a historicist, and Liszt a representative of the New German School (with Wagner). Nevertheless, Schumann instantly accepted and encouraged him to compose, and wrote about him, while Brahms also befriended Schumann’s wife Clara, a pianist and composer – their relationship being an inexhaustible source of speculation for Brahms’s biographers, especially after Schumann’s death in 1856.

Brahms wrote four symphonies, Violin Concerto, A German Requiem, nearly 200 art songs, pieces for solo piano and numerous chamber works – string and piano quartets and quintets, sextets, cello sonatas and clarinet chamber music. His works are often branded as classicist, academic, but painted with Romantic passion; on the other hand, speaking on the occasion of the centenary of Brahms’s birth, the ‘father of atonal music’, Arnold Schönberg called him ‘a great innovator in the realm of musical language’ who was in fact ‘a great progressive’.

Johannes Brahms left a significant mark with his art songs, an important part of his opus. He began writing his lyrical vocal miniatures under the influence of folk melodies, and writing songs might have encouraged the transfer of such melodies to his instrumental works. He wrote around 200 art songs, which, from Opus 3 when he was 21, to Opus 12 when he was 63 years old, display a unity of style. He paid special attention to the texts he chose for his songs, with a preference for lesser-known authors. He was not only looking to set the text to music, but also to create a solid form, like in absolute music, with a complex piano part and seemingly simple, melodic vocal part; perhaps this is the reason why these at the same time rich and restrained works are so amenable to arrangements. Brahms transcribed his own and other composers’ works and, although in this evening’s version of his songs we do not hear the text, it may still influence the overall musical impression.

Feldeinsamkeit literally means ‘field solitude’, and the text describes daydreaming in nature, under the blue sky (‘I rest at peace in tall green grass’; with the characteristic ascending sixth at the beginning of the melody and flowing accompaniment), but also the echoes of darker thoughts (‘as if I had long been dead’). The sentimental Wie Melodien begins with ‘like melodies, steals softly through my mind’, without us ever knowing what exactly steals softly; the rich melody later became one of the themes in Violin Sonata, Op. 100. Sapphische Ode – Sapphic Ode – begins with a deep, swaying melody with syncopated accompaniment and the text ‘I gathered roses from the dark hedge by night’, and remains refined and simple until the ornamented end. With its lovely, childish melody, Brahms’s Lullaby – Wiegenlied –outgrew concert stages and has a life of its own, but it is nice to occasionally hear it in a chamber context. Liebestreu, Op. 3/1, one of Brahms’s first published works, has a simple, but earnest melody. It is a dialogue between a mother and a daughter that begins with the mother’s call ‘drown your grief, my child, in the sea, the fathomless sea’, while Minnelied (Love Song) brings tender love lyrics, beginning with ‘birdsong sounds more beautiful when the pure angel who has won my young heart wanders through the woods.’

The songs were arranged by Norbert Salter (1868–1935), cellist and impresario who lived in Budapest, Hamburg and Vienna – he published his arrangements in 1896 and Brahms probably knew about them – and David Geringas (1946), cellist, conductor and legendary cello professor in Berlin.

Croatian composer Dora Pejačević (Budapest, 1885 – Munich, 1923) came from a noble family – she was the daughter and granddaughter of counts Pejačević, bans (viceroys) of Croatia, and the daughter of a Hungarian baroness. Exceptionally educated, she spoke languages, travelled, socialised with intellectuals such as the Austrian writer Karl Kraus; she composed since she was twelve, studied music on her own, then privately in Zagreb, then in Dresden and Munich. During the World War I she nursed the wounded in her town, Našice, and composed prolifically. After the Piano Concerto (1913), she wrote Symphony in F-sharp minor, which was premiered in Dresden in 1920, the first or one of the first two modern Croatian symphonies. Her unique oeuvre was very promising, but she died soon after childbirth in 1923. In lieu of flowers at her funeral, she wished for donations to support poor musicians.

Dora Pejačević left 58 opuses, late Romantic works as well as works that firmly belong to European Modern music. Apart from larger pieces, she wrote instrumental miniatures and art songs. She played the violin and piano since childhood, and her earliest works include lovely pieces for this ensemble; Academician Koraljka Kos believes that intertwining and alternating of large and small music forms was key to Dora Pejačević’s personality as a composer, and wrote the following in her book about Pejačević: ‘While in the group of absolute instrumental forms, the musical language of Dora Pejačević impresses with its high professional level, discipline and formal integrity, in the second group the composer had more freedom for intimate lyrical expression, unbridled play of imagination or occasional breakthroughs from traditional patterns.’

Dora Pejačević wrote one Sonata for cello and piano, in 1913, which she reworked in 1915. This Romantic piece makes thorough use of the ‘singing’ qualities of the cello and contains an interesting shift to 5/4 time in the third movement. The Sonata was published by the Croatian Music Information Centre (MIC), with the following description:

‘The first movement is characterised by a wonderful main theme with a wide melodic range, which begins its dramatic development right after the first exposition. The second movement, Scherzo with Trio, is carried by a humorous two-bar dance motif, and the third, Adagio sostenuto, is a warm lyrical meditation, a perfect formal whole with masterfully executed gradation and subsiding. The fourth movement, Allegro commodo, is also written in sonata form, whose dynamic flow is enlivened by a series harmonic subtleties and surprises, with lush piano texture. In recent years, Dora Pejačević’s Sonata for cello and piano has become a repertoire standard of many internationally renowned cellists due to its artistic value, rich musical substance and masterful formal disposition.’


Photos by Ivan Lacković & Romano Grozić