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Cello Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 117
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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

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67948 track 8
Andante
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-12-94808
Duration
7'28
Recording date
15 December 2011
Recording venue
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Recording producer
John Fraser
Recording engineer
Ben Connellan
Hyperion usage
  1. Lieux retrouvés – Music for cello & piano (CDA67948)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: October 2012
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