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Hyperion Records

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Dead poet borne by centaur by Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)
Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67624
Recording details: December 2007
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: October 2008
Total duration: 28 minutes 52 seconds

'This new version [of the Alkan] must surely drag it centre-stage. It is a masterpiece: meaty, melodic, and, as with most of Alkan's music, extremely demanding to play … both performances from this outstanding partnership are out of the top drawer, fresh, spontaneous and beautifully recorded' (Gramophone)

'The Alkan emerges as a surprisingly strong work, made more so by the sterling advocacy of these fine players. Its four movements betray its composer's love of harmonic quirks and unexpected changes of direction alongside a freely lyrical spirit. Gerhardt draws a suitably Romantic sound from his rich-toned Matteus Gofriller cello, and he conveys a lithe ease of articulation and rhythm in the jaunty saltarella that concludes the work. In the more familiar Chopin, there is a palpable sense of a single, combined mind at work. Osborne's Chopin playing proves to be every bit as focused as his Messiaen or Tippett, and he and Gerhardt respond superlatively to the music's sensitivity and power' (The Daily Telegraph)

'One of the most gifted cellists on the international scene … Gerhardt is superb here, and he is fortunate to have Steven Osborne as his accompanist … a pianist of the first rank' (International Record Review)

'Osborne is simply a fantastic musician … simply astounding, binding his phrases in a way that eluded Barenboim, while providing just as much rhythmic acuity … Kenneth Hamilton has written an outstanding analysis of both works that I commend to your attention … Hyperion's sound quality is completely natural; one almost feels that there is no mechanical wall between performers and listener. This is an outstanding disc' (Fanfare, USA)

'Both sonatas benefit from Gerhardt's lovely, focused tone and Osborne's nimble fingerwork' (The Boston Globe, USA)

'Les tourbillons imaginés par Alkan sont bien rendus (notamment l'élan de la Saltarelle)' (Diapason, France)

Cello Sonata in G minor, Op 65
published in 1847 and dedicated to Auguste Franchomme who first performed movements 2 to 4 only with Chopin at the Salle Pleyel on 16 February 1848

Largo  [3'40]
Finale: Allegro  [5'43]

Other recordings available for download
Jamie Walton (cello), Daniel Grimwood (piano)
Carter Brey (cello), Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
‘I write a little and cross out a lot’, Chopin wrote to his sister during the composition of his final major work, the Cello Sonata in G minor Op 65, written in Paris in 1845 and 1846. ‘Sometimes I am pleased with it, sometimes not. I throw it into a corner and then pick it up again.’ No work of his gave him more trouble, as manifested by the extensive sketches. It was the last one to be published during his lifetime, written when his health was failing. The four movements (Allegro moderato, Scherzo, Largo and Allegro) show how far Chopin had developed in his ability to form a closely integrated sonata structure, with ideas developing from a variety of short but related motifs.

For some of Chopin’s contemporaries it was a difficult work to grasp. Moscheles found ‘passages which sound to me like someone preluding on the piano, the player knocking at the door of every key and clef, to find if any melodious sounds were at home’, yet he thought well enough of it to make an arrangement for piano four hands. The Allegro moderato, especially, puzzled even Chopin’s intimates—players today find it the most problematic in terms of balance—and he omitted the movement at the premiere given by himself and Franchomme, the work’s dedicatee, on 16 February 1848. This first movement clearly had some hidden significance for him. Various commentators have noted in it thematic references from Schubert’s Winterreise, notably the initial phrase of ‘Gute Nacht’, the opening song. The subject of the song-cycle, the disappointed lover in despair at leaving his beloved, would seem to reflect the circumstances of Chopin’s life when he was writing the Sonata. There is evidence that he turned to Winterreise at the time of his separation from George Sand. Could that be why the first movement was not played at the premiere? Is that why on his deathbed he asked Franchomme to play it but could not bear to hear more than the opening bars?

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2010

Other albums featuring this work
'Chopin/Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonatas' (SIGCD252)
Chopin/Saint-Saëns: Cello Sonatas
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00ALAC 24-bit 44.1 kHz £9.00 SIGCD252  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Chopin: Chamber Music' (CDH55384)
Chopin: Chamber Music
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55384  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Chopin: The Complete Works' (CDS44351/66)
Chopin: The Complete Works
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44351/66  16CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

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