We understand that Doppler’s music has been with you as a duo for more than 20 years. In fact, in 2002, you released your first album together in Hungary: Hang-Szín-Játékok (‘Sound-Colour-Games’), in which you included the Doppler brothers’ Rigoletto Fantasy that you have now re-recorded. After these twenty years of growing as people and as musicians, what changes are noticeable in your interpretation of this work?
Gergely: We recorded Sound-Colour-Games on our own initiative. It was one of our shared dreams to produce an album with pieces that were meaningful to us at the time. Miraculously we somehow made this happen. We were able to get permission to use the concert hall of a music school in Budapest for one night without charge and went there to record with a friend of ours whose hobby was producing recordings. We played and worked through the whole night without sleeping, and this is how the CD was born. There were only one or two edits made, I believe, as our friend was not so experienced at editing. We designed the cover with the help of my father, using the image of Márton Győri’s painting, who happens to be Noémi’s cousin; for the booklet, we took some photos in the yard outside our conservatoire, using a very basic and rather old camera. Finally, we burned, printed and assembled each copy of the disc and booklet ourselves! It was quite an unusual act and attitude at the end of the 1990s for teenage musicians to pursue such an idea and create a self-made product — at least it was in Hungary. Little did we suspect that this was just the beginning. We subsequently founded and operated the Budapest Youth Symphony Orchestra as well as the IKZE – Contemporary Music Festival for Young Composers together during our twenties, before marrying, creating a family and finally recording our first commercial disc together!
Noémi: Immediately after recording for Rubicon Classics, we dug up the only rather damaged copy of our first CD and listened to it for the first time in many years. It was so beautiful and quite emotional to hear it. While we’ve changed a lot during these twenty years, the very essence of us and our musicianship has remained constant. We have, of course, matured, and our interpretations and, most of all, our phrasings have become more refined, varied and technically balanced. Some of our over-the-top, extreme ideas and musical solutions from the past have now become more subtle and rather playful, all executed with more precision. To me, it seems that in our earlier recording, the focus always fell on ‘playing together’. But now, this aspect flows so naturally and effortlessly that there’s more room and flexibility for individual freedom in our playing.
Gergely — you are an outstanding conductor, and since 2019 you have been Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège. But your musical beginnings were with the flute, and you have performed hundreds of concerts together with Noémi and even won prizes as a flautist. We hear that the idea for this album came ‘thanks’ to lockdown. Could you tell us more about this story?
Gergely: Soon after completing my master’s degree in flute performance at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, I was busy fulfilling engagements as a conductor and therefore only played the flute infrequently. Although I was able to return to my usual match fitness for occasional performances — and greatly enjoyed them because of it — I hardly ever had periods in my schedule where I was able to spend a more substantial time playing the flute. During the first lockdown in 2020, Noémi had the idea of performing a little recital together for our neighbours from the patio of our house. This event somehow reignited our duo playing: thanks to the pandemic, suddenly there was time and space to make music together, and it was immensely fulfilling and enjoyable. After conducting so much during the past decade, playing the flute felt liberating and very personal. Expressing musical thoughts as an instrumentalist was like coming home, really easy-going and direct: it was really good to return to this way of music making. To me, it was very important to capture this joy, which is why it feels wonderful to be able to share my musical ideas as a flautist with the greater public through this recording and to depict the nature of our duo playing.
What is the complete tracklist of this new album?
Noémi: The CD begins with Franz and Karl Doppler’s Fantaisie sur des motifs hongrois Op.35, which, being Hungarians, feels particularly close to us. This is followed by Franz Doppler’s Andante et Rondo Op.25, Friedrich Kuhlau’s grandiose Trio for two flutes and piano in G Op.119 and, what is probably Franz and Karl Doppler’s most celebrated work for two flutes and piano, the Rigoletto-fantaisie Op.38. The final piece on the album is by Franz Doppler, his Duettino américain Op.37, which is full of well-known melodies and musical jokes. We also decided to include two more works by Franz Doppler, written for a single flute with piano. The Fantaisie pastorale hongroise Op.26 and the lesser-known yet superbly virtuoso and truly expressive Chanson d’amour Op.20 are particular favourites of mine, and I feel they provide breathing space between the brilliance and weight of the trios.
Noémi Győri website: noemigyori.com
Gergely Madaras website: gergelymadaras.com
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