By today's standards, there's nothing particularly jarring or seemingly progressive about the mature works of Gabriel Fauré. In his own time, however, he was often criticized for his curious, almost experimental use of harmony in his chamber music, and for what some saw as his neglect of the individual qualities of the instruments for which he was composing. Some of these sentiments have endured and resulted in the infrequent performance of many of his chamber works, in this case the two sonatas for cello and piano. While the cello "miniatures," such as the Op. 24 Elegie and the Op. 7 Apre un Reve (transcribed by Casals), have enjoyed popularity particularly in high school and early college studios, they are not representative of Fauré's developed harmonic language. The sonatas are something quite difficult, and require performances that can withstand their harmonically dominated landscape. Cellist Xavier Gagnepain and pianist Jean-Michel Dayez deliver on this necessity on this album, providing listeners with an unadulterated reading of the score and allowing Fauré's music to speak for itself. Gagnepain's combines the clarity and lucidity associated with a true "French sound" with warmth and intensity so as not to appear thin or weak. Intonation and technique are polished as the musical interpretation itself. The result is an album that even those who think they may not care for Fauré's cello sonatas should still check out.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 1 in D minor, Op. 109|
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117|
|Romances sans paroles (3) for piano, Op. 17|