Cellist Raphaela Gromes’s New Album, “Femmes”
Released on Sony Classical as a two-disc set, Gromes and pianist Julian Riem perform 23 works by female composers from around the world
A longtime advocate for works by female composers, German cellist and Opus Klassik laureate Raphaela Gromes released a new double album including compositions by women from across nine centuries.
“Femmes” features Gromes alongside German pianist Julian Riem — who also prepared all the arrangements on the two discs — as well as the Festival Strings Lucerne and their artistic director and Gromes’s frequent collaborator, Daniel Dodds.
The new album includes Hildegard von Bingen’s O virtus sapientiae, Maria Antonia Walpurgis von Bayern’s Talestri: “Da me ti dividi,” Clara Schumann’s Leidenschaftlich schnell from Three Romances op. 22, three movements from Pauline Viardot Garcia’s Six Morceaux, VWV 3003, Matilde Capuis Tre Momenti for Cello and String Orchestra, Victoria Yagling’s Aria from the Suite for Cello and String Orchestra, and Florence Price’s Adoration.
The first disc also features works sung by famous female opera figures including Henry Purcell’s Dido’s Lament, Susanna’s aria by Mozart in The Marriage of Figaro, and the Carmen Fantasie by Georges Bizet.
Disc two features Nadia Boulanger’s Trois Pièces, Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne from Deux Morceaux, Cécile Chaminade’s Nuit étoilée, Henriette Bosmans’s Nuit calme from Impressions, Germaine Tailleferre Berceuse, Maria Theresia von Paradis’s Sicilienne, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel’s Fantasia in G Minor, and Laura Netzel’s Danse Hongroise, Op. 51.
Other works include Luise Adolpha Le Beau’s Romanze, Op. 35, Rebecca Clarke’s Epilog, Grażyna Bacewicz’s Mazovian Dance, Amy Beach’s Dreaming from 4 Sketches, Op. 15, plus Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, and Lionel Ritchie’s Miss Celie's Blues, “Sister,” from The Color Purple.
The album also involves works from living composers including Las Tarantulas by Dolores White, Postludium by Lera Auerbach, the Chocolat Suite by Rachel Portman, and Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell’s Oscar-winning song No Time to Die.
To purchase and listen to the album, click here.
The repertoire of “Femmes” and its conception was created in partnership with Furore Verlag (a publishing firm only distributing music by women composers), Sony Classical, and the “Frau und Musik” (Women in Music) Archive in Frankfurt, Germany — with which Gromes has maintained a long-term working relationship.
“A friend of mine suggested that I devote an album entirely to women composers,” Gromes explained. “So I plunged into the research and was excited and shocked at once: excited by the incredible number of brilliant women composers at work all over the world since the Middle Ages, and shocked because I’d never heard of most of them,” she added. “With FEMMES, I can at last make the works and life stories of these wonderful women accessible to a broad audience.”
In the album booklet, author Susanne Wosnitzka poses the question: “What about all the wonderful music we’ve missed over the centuries in a culture that continues, even today, to close its eyes to works by women?” As explained by Woszitzka, less than 2 percent of works programmed by Germany’s professional orchestras are written by women. Further, in a study by “Donne — Women in Music,” data from over 100 orchestras from 31 countries, only 7.7 percent of programmed works were by women.
Gromes has held an exclusive contract with Sony Classical since 2016. Like “Femmes,” many of her albums have included world premiere recordings and have featured in the Top 10 of Germany’s classical charts. Her albums, and those with Riem, have won the German Record Critics’ Prize, Bavarian Art Promotion Prize, Opus Klassik Prize, and the Diapason Nouveauté and Diapason d’Or awards.
Since October 2022, Gromes has been the only artist in the world to play on a 1740 cello crafted by Carlo Bergonzi.
Below you can hear an extract from the album: Florence Price's work Adoration.