Thursday 17 January 2019, 7.30pm
“A string duo bound for glory” – Max Reinhardt, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction
“Playing that has the kind of quality that you couldn’t fake” – Tom Robinson, BBC 6Music
Mesmerising London-based string duo Fran & Flora announce their debut album, the stunningly performed Unfurl, self-released on February 15th 2019.
Borne from the meeting point of the manifold interests of violinist Flora Curzon and cellist Francesca Ter-Berg, the duo’s compositions and arrangements are infused with modes and forms from traditional Transylvanian, Klezmer, Romanian, Greek and Armenian music which they have studied for over a decade with teachers of such folk traditions. Fran & Flora approach their reinterpretation of styles and deliveries not by homage, but by interweaving. Threads of deep-rooted musics are neatly and uniquely braided with experimental electronics, ambient drones and vocal processing. The results - as evidenced on the glorious, entrancing Unfurl - are simultaneously reverent and authentic, deeply personal and intelligently informed.
Curzon and Ter-Berg - both established collaborators and string players - met through their work with such groundbreaking artists as Mercury Prize winner Talvin Singh MBE, Sam Lee & Friends (BBC Folk Award winner), Floating Points, Portico Quartet, Dunajska Kapelye, the London Klezmer Quartet, Cosmo Sheldrake and Frank London of The Klezmatics among others. Years of mutual (convolution?) collaboration have accorded the duo a deep musical bond that goes beyond a shared band membership. “Flora and I have been playing together for so long we know what each other is thinking and are doing without having to discuss it or look at each other,” Francesca writes. Appropriately, the performances throughout the record are characterised by an intuitive telepathy, both otherworldly and unshowy.
Unfurl covers a breadth of material, both musical and thematic. Traditional folk songs are sung in both Romanian and Yiddish, while pre-release single ‘Mayn Rue Platz’ is a modern performance and interpretation of a poem and melody by early New York-Jewish writer (of the “Sweatshop Poets” group) Morris Rosenfeld. Poem and song both tell the true story of the death of a factory worker, singing to his lover from the afterlife. Fran & Flora also name as influences Shostakovich, Bach, Tcha Limberger, D’angelo, Alice Coltrane, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Elka Vulcheva, Nils Okland, Gabi Lunca, Petro Loukas, Elizabeth Walfisch and Alan Bern, effectively capturing the huge range of their own expression. Present here, in abundance, is the elegance and poise of those classical reference points, flowing freely and boldly alongside the strange magic of the modern.
Unfurl is released on 15 February 2019 with a little help from Kartel.