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Julien Szulman talks about Christian Ferras

Brilliant French violinist, great soloist at the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Julien Szulman is also the founder and vice president of the association Les Amis de Christian Ferras, whose mission is to maintain the legacy of this legendary violinist. Since Deutsche Grammophon recently edited the album that contains rare pieces of this violin master called ”Forgotten Ferras”, Julien Szulman talked to us about discovering these forgotten works. 

How did you become interested in Christian Ferras?

My first violin teacher was one of his students! Therefore when I started taking violin lessons I was already initiated by stories that my teacher told me. And then, little by little, I was intrigued and I wanted to know more. 

What place does Christian Ferras take in the art of violin playing? How would you describe his style in couple words? 

His style really follows the legacy of George Enesco and the French-Belgian violin school. He has a totally personal style where completely dominates the musicality. Also, he and Zino Francescatti were THE French violinists that managed to have a wide international career in the 1950s and 60s. He recorded with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonics. He really had one of those international glories of the classical music world back then. 

This CD is called « Forgotten Ferras », how did you find those rare recordings?

We founded the association “Les Amis de Christian Ferras” together with Thierry de Choudens - he is the one who wrote the biography of Ferras, published in 2004. Since we have a website, an antiquarian managed to get in touch with us, to tell us that he got remaining things from the widow of Christian Ferras that passed away. We could therefore discover various documents and photographs that are now part of the CD’s booklet. There were also some rare Japanese recordings that you can now find on the Forgotten Ferras CD. I started in parallel my own research of forgotten 78-rpm recordings that never came out on the vinyl nor CDs. 

What are some new discoveries of his interpretative legacy that bring us this record?

There are short pieces that mainly address the real amateurs but this CD is an occasion to appreciate the great quality of sound that this musician had. But let’s not forget that Christian Ferras recorded with Deutsche Grammophon a recital of short pieces that is now part of the Art of Christian Ferras (DGG) collection. Nowadays we are quite lucky because the majority of Ferras’ recordings is now available, which was not the case when I started my research. 

This album has two important aspects: the recordings that came from those rare 78-rpm recordings, that show already an impressive musicality of only 19 years-old Ferras. But there is also this belated Japanese recital where Ferras’ health was getting worse, mainly because of his inclination to alcohol. We can say that this is a rare last testimony of the great violin playing of Christian Ferras. 

How was working with Deutsche Grammophon? 

Deutsche Grammophon did an amazing job! The booklet is really well documented, there are beautiful pictures and interesting details. This CD is a beautiful object on top of its great musical quality. I collaborated with Jean-Michel Molkhou, who is a journalist for Diapason. We initiated this project that is in a close connection to the association Les Amis de Christian Ferras. So if your readers have some questions or comments, they are more than welcome to contact us. 

More about Les Amis de Christian Ferras :

More about Julien Szulman :

CR Pictures : DGG/Jean-Baptiste Millot

Adela Pudlakova et Pierre-Jean Tribot 

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