Anne Gastinel / Claire Désert

French Music for Cello & Piano

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Written some 60 years apart, the cello sonatas of Franck (by way of transcription by Jules Delsart), Debussy, Poulenc demonstrate the successive lineage of three generations of French composers, each emphasizing a particular musical facet. For Franck, the connection to vocal music is clear, particularly in the third movement Recitativo; but even in the other three movements, his long, spun melodies are highly lyrical. Debussy's sonata, one of his last completed works, goes about painting a clear picture of the popular Pierrot character while Poulenc shows off his witty, sardonic sense of humor and advancing tonality. Each masterworks of the cello's repertoire, they are treated to superbly enjoyable performances by cellist Anne Gastinel and pianist Claire Désert on this Naïve disc. The first thing listeners will notice is Gastinel's ravishingly powerful, rich sound quality. Naïve captures Gastinel with a sound that, while present and in-your-face, is still warm and nicely developed. Likewise, Désert's elegant touch is portrayed with careful attention to balance across the range of her instrument as well as with the cello line. The duo functions as a polished, single entity whose interpretations play to the heart of each composer's score, highlighting Franck's succulent lyricism, Debussy's storytelling, and Poulenc's sophisticated charm. This is an easily recommendable album worth checking out whether you've heard these sonatas a thousand times or never before.

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