This remarkable disc features recordings of two live performances from 2002 at Martha Argerich's Lugano Festival: César Franck's Sonata for piano and violin, played by Alexandre Gurning and Renaud Capuçon, and Rachmaninov's Sonata for cello and piano, performed by Capuçon and Lilya Zilberstein. The CD cover and the liner notes mistakenly identify Franck's work as a sonata for violin and piano, also implying that Rachmaninov's composition, a great pianist's creation, should be called a sonata for piano and cello. It is Franck's sonata, however, that assigns a fundamental role to the piano. Gurning's clear, assertive pianism beautifully complements Capuçon's subtle, imaginative reading of the score. Franck's sonata is a particular challenge for the violinist, as the violin carries the fundamental idea/motif that defines the entire work. In a sense, the implied contemplative and emotional potential of this composition is limited by the reiteration of the leading idea, and the violinist must, in order to keep the work's momentum, imaginatively explore the instrument's vast sonic potential. Capuçon, with his ability to illuminate the entire emotional universe of this work, from manifestations of frantic restlessness to varieties of melancholy contemplation, offers a rich and satisfying performance that rewards the listener with original and spellbinding sonorities. Rachmaninov's sonata, played by Renaud's younger brother, cellist Gautier Capuçon, and pianist Lilya Zilberstein, is a unique musical experience. Unlike Franck's sonata, Rachmaninov's composition is pure poetry: it is unencumbered by leading themes, fundamental ideas, and cyclical constructions. Rachmaninov's unique melody -- vast, oceanic, fluid, and free in its authentic lyricism -- finds the perfect mediator in Gautier's warm, intimate, rich, and quintessentially poetic playing. Thanks to Gautier's profound understanding of Rachmaninov's genius, this sonata may finally gain recognition as one of the greatest works in the modern cello repertoire.
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AllMusic Review by Zoran Minderovic
|Sonata for violin & piano in A major, M. 8|
|Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op. 19|