Sebastian Comberti

Stephen Paxton: 4 Sonatas and a Concerto

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It is sometimes hard to believe that, in this day and age, discoveries of new works and even forgotten composers continue to be made. This album on the Cello Classics label proves that there are still works out there yet to be found, and that some of them are well worth discovery. Cellist Sebastian Comberti, along with the unlikely assistance of novelist Imogen Robertson, has unearthed four sonatas and a concerto by eighteenth century composer and cellist Stephen Paxton. While Paxton was a well-respected musician during his time, his overall impact was rather negligible and so much of his work and even his name has been long since forgotten. These sonatas, however, are real gems for cellists. They are not profoundly difficult, technical works that seek to demonstrate Paxton's own prowess on the instrument; rather, they are charming examples of the popular sonata form in London at the time. Realized here with a second cello and harpsichord, Comberti breathes new life into these forgotten works with stunning elegance and refinement in his playing, a warm sensitivity in the slow movements, and a graceful, joyous vivaciousness in the outer movements. The album ends with the premiere recording of the Concerto in G. Comberti is joined by the Pantheon Band; here, however, the accompaniment is far from the refinement and precision heard in the sonatas. The Pantheon Band has difficulties with intonation throughout and balance is not always ideal, making this part of the album sound extremely amateurish. Still, listeners will relish in the quality of the new repertoire and the brilliant performance of the four sonatas.

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