Ophélie Gaillard

Fauré: Works for Cello & Piano

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AllMusic Review by

Franco-Swiss performer Ophélie Gaillard has emerged as one of the most engaging and versatile cellists of the early 21st century. Her repertoire enthusiastically embraces the full historical range of music for cello, from Bach and Vivaldi through to Britten and Berio, and includes virtually all the standard solo works. Also a professional musicologist, she is scrupulous in bringing an informed and enlivening interpretive spirit and intelligence to the work at hand. This CD includes almost all the music Gabriel Fauré wrote for solo cello, omitting the brief Sérénade for cello and piano, Op. 98, but adding Casals' transcription of the early song "Après un rêve." The C minor Élégie is heard in its original version with piano rather than orchestral accompaniment. Gaillard's technique is impeccably clean and effortless sounding; she glides through Fauré's sumptuous melodies like she is singing. Her tone is full and rounded, but not as silky as some listener might expect in this repertoire. This is especially effective in the two sonatas. Without sacrificing refinement, her playing has a refreshing earthiness that brings passion and a fresh dimension to works that can lend themselves to reserved, pastel performances. She never stints on lyricism, but she beautifully captures the sonatas' intensity. In the more conventionally lyrical pieces, such as the Élégie, the familiar Sicilienne, and "Après un rêve," her tone is appropriately sweeter and more limpid. French pianist Bruno Fontaine is every bit her equal in the subtlety and sophistication of his playing; the way he brings out the inner voices in the deceptively simple accompaniment of the Élégie is a marvel. Ambroisie's sound is clear and natural, with exceptionally vivid presence.

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