Raphael Chretien

Lalo, Saint-Saëns: The Cello Sonatas

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Never having achieved the same level of acceptance or widespread performance as their respective cello concertos, both Edouard Lalo and Camille Saint-Saëns contributed to the cello sonata repertoire as well. The two sonatas of Saint-Saëns and the one of Lalo are conceived on the same grand scale as the Beethoven cello sonatas while assigning even dominance to the cello's role over the piano. All three sonatas are well-written to accentuate the cello's strengths: extreme range, sonorous melodic abilities. And while they may not be on the same level of other French sonatas (notably the Debussy sonata) they are certainly worthy of more performance and attention than they currently receive. This Ligia Digital album features cellist Raphaël Chrétien and pianist Olivier Peyrebrune in a convincing, authoritative performance of the three sonatas. Listeners will immediately note that Ligia's recorded sound quality is extremely dry, making the cello sound somewhat dull and one-dimensional. Conversely, the piano actually seems to benefit from this arid sound, giving it an exceptionally clear, precise articulation. Both Chrétien and Peyrebrune play with an abundance of vitality and exuberance without overindulging in excessive rubato or exaggerated gestures. Despite recorded sound quality issues, listeners unfamiliar with these works would still do well checking out this CD. The enclosed liner notes have several chronological incongruencies.

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