In 1904 Magnard left Paris for his estate Manoir des Fontaines in Baron. Here he wrote much of his exquisite chamber music. The Cello Sonata in A major Op 20, from 1910/11, which never became as popular as the violin sonata he wrote for Eugène Ysaÿe in 1902, was premiered at Salle Pleyel in Paris on 11 February 1911 by Ferdinand Pollain and Blanche Selva. In a 1930 interview Marcel Labey said about the sonata ‘... nothing matters to him but sincerity of thought and harmonious balance of form. Thus his music, being of no period, will not grow old.’ A review in Le Monde
described the sonata as containing ‘some of the most beautiful pages of post-Berlioz romanticism’. The lyrical first movement contains a section marked ‘alla zingarese’ in the cello part and ‘alla d’Indy’ in the piano part, which serves as the basis for a fugue later in the movement, relating to the fugue in the last movement. A passionate scherzo, with a hint of folkiness, leads straight into the Funèbre, which like the last movement is a rondo in five sections. Magnard devoted his attention to musical architecture and may not have strived for poetic expression in his music, nor had he interest in the grace or charm of Chabrier, Ravel or Saint-Saëns, but this cello sonata offers moments of the finest poetry.
from notes by Mats Lidström © 2003