Chopin: Works for cello and piano (complete)

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LABELS: Intrada
WORKS: Works for cello and piano (complete)
PERFORMER: Henri Demarquette (cello), Brigitte Engerer (piano)
Chopin’s Cello Sonata is a late work, and one that’s sometimes criticised for being formally stodgy, especially in the first movement. Well, you wouldn’t notice that here, where the whole thing is projected with an incredible unanimity of rubato and acute sense of balance, though the recording is on the close side. It helps that Henri Demarquette and Brigitte Engerer have played the work many times together, and know exactly where the important material is, so that give and take is second nature. And that Demarquette is seemingly incapable of producing an ugly sound: even at his loudest, the tone is sweet and centred, and the legato seamless. The scherzo has a lyrical undertone, and the slow movement a simplicity which is disarming. After that, the earlier Grand duo concertante (a fantasia on themes from Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable), and Introduction and Polonaise brillante sound musically tame, and here both performers could inject more pizzazz into their playing. Demarquette is happier in the transcriptions of the études and nocturnes, where he can again spin the long line against Engerer’s limpid piano. But the Sonata’s the main thing, even though the selling point of this CD is that it consists of Chopin’s complete cello works. Martin Cotton