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Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Landscape at Cagnes by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Private Collection / Photo © Lefevre Fine Art Ltd, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67872
Recording details: October 2010
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Rachel Smith
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: January 2012
Total duration: 17 minutes 59 seconds

'Gerhardt and Licad sound as free as air, intellectually confident, full of verve, with niceties of balance and intensities never an issue; a convincing frame of colour, movement and sound in place for every movement, every piece' (Gramophone)

'Visionary performers … one has a powerful sense of Alban Gerhardt's compelling grasp of architecture' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Gerhardt and Licad make a particularly fine duo here, working emotionally in unison, sensing the music's contours with like mind, breathing as one' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Like the works themselves, Gerhardt's playing and that of the pianist Cecile Licad is full of subtleties, the half-tones and inflections that make the chamber music of Fauré's final decade so elusive and fragile' (The Guardian)

'An arrestingly beautiful survey … this repertoire has been explored frequently and by some of the best, but seldom more persuasively than here … from every standpoint, Gerhardt's accounts of the sonatas seem exceptional, with their assured technical mastery and uncanny depth of insight … magnificent cello playing from Gerhardt, empathetically supportive accompaniments from Licad and a wonderfully natural and atmospheric recording to boot … recommended' (International Record Review)

'Both cello sonatas are rolled out effortlessly and with an abundance of colour … other short cello works, the delicious Élégie included, pad out this sizeable, and very satisfying, offering … a super recording' (The Scotsman)

'Alban Gerhardt has arrived at the ideal marriage of Fauré's refinement, essential reticence and the passion that lies just beneath the surface of the two cello sonatas' (Yorkshire Post)

Cello Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 117
composer
March to November 1921; first performed in 13 May 1922

Allegro  [5'36]
Andante  [7'42]
Allegro vivo  [4'41]

Other recordings available for download
Steven Isserlis (cello), Pascal Devoyon (piano)
Steven Isserlis (cello), Thomas Adès (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Fauré wrote his Second Cello Sonata between March and November 1921. As in the First Sonata, he obeys the rules to the extent of using two contrasting themes: the first a scalic idea that turns back on itself, the second based on a descending third. But instead of presenting these some way apart, as first and second subjects, they are contrasted from the beginning and, again, Fauré uses canon (albeit freely) as a means of increasing the tension. In the general flux, the arrival of the recapitulation is so subtly managed as to be almost unnoticed.

Like the Sicilienne, the Andante was taken from another project, and was in fact the nucleus from which the sonata grew. At the beginning of 1921, Fauré received a state commission to write a work for the ceremony to be held on 5 May at Les Invalides to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Napoleon—not, one might have thought, much in his line, and he admitted to his wife that he found ‘the subject and the occasion thoroughly intimidating’. But he complied. And then the resulting Chant funéraire, duly orchestrated for the Garde républicaine by its conductor, obviously remained in its composer’s head. Would it never be heard again? He determined that it would. In the measured repeated chords of the accompaniment and the long majestic cello lines it looks back to the successful Élégie, now coloured with more enigmatic harmonies.

In the finale the two contrasting themes are separated in traditional fashion, the first a syncopated, almost jazzy tune, the second a tongue-in-cheek chorale. As in the First Sonata, the piano, playing in every bar of every movement, is the leader of things harmonic, while the cello rides imperiously over all its excentricities. In the variety and quality of his invention, the aged Fauré was every bit the equal of Verdi—or Elliott Carter. The day after the Sonata’s premiere on 13 May 1922, Vincent d’Indy wrote to his old friend: ‘I want to tell you that I’m still under the spell of your beautiful Cello Sonata … The Andante is a masterpiece of sensitivity and expression and I love the finale, so perky and delightful … How lucky you are to stay young like that!’

from notes by Roger Nichols © 2012


Other albums featuring this work
'Fauré: Cello Sonata No 2 & other works' (CDA66235)
Fauré: Cello Sonata No 2 & other works
'Lieux retrouvés – Music for cello & piano' (CDA67948)
Lieux retrouvés – Music for cello & piano
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £12.00ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £12.00 CDA67948  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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