Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fauré: Cello Sonatas

From the opening measures there is lift, lilt, delight, and lyric warmth. Gagnepain plays an 1878 Gand et Bernardel cello whose burnished mahogany lower register—opening up the scale in radiant amber—envelops melody in a startling aura of luxe et volupté. That enhances one’s pleasure immeasurably, of course, but Gagnepain is so attuned to Fauré’s peculiar sensuousness and melodic geste that one suspects he could coax expressive miracles from a battered school instrument. Indeed, the original instrument gambit cuts both ways.

Dayez plays a 1902 Erard, said to have been Fauré’s preferred make, whose lightweight presence—something between mellow and hollow—leaves the pianist toiling in the rear. The cello is captured with such close-on immediacy that the piano is pushed into the background, springing to sudden piquant life only in solo passages.

Though the recording is unbalanced, enough of Dayez’s flair emerges to confirm his close dialogue with Gagnepain, animating the parts and shaping opulence with formal point. For once—in the spate of recent Fauré cello programs—the lyric sentiment of the smaller pieces is lingered over lovingly, while the sonatas are revealed as major utterances by the artists’ prescient playing to their lyric logic.

The occasional pieces—Morceu de lecture and Vocalise—and transcriptions are a generous addition to an already rich program. Gagnepain supplies brief annotations on the pieces, while special mention must be made of the couple of introductory pages by Jean-François Zygel that go as far as words may to explain Fauré’s ineffable melding of charm, profundity, and power. Forget the balance caveat—the ear adjusts as the particulars of rapture pour forth—and snag this splendid album at once. --FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis

MP3 320 · 160 MB

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