Fauré’s chamber works for cello and piano performed by Filip Graden and Bengt Forsberg

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COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré
WORKS: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Romance in A; Papillon; Sérénade; Berceuse; Morceau de lecture*; Sicilienne; Dolly Suite – Berceuse; Andante; Elégie in C minor
PERFORMER: Andreas Brantelid, *Filip Graden (cello), Bengt Forsberg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS-2220 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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This treasurable feast for Fauréphiles brings together the composer’s works for cello and piano in colourful, virtually aerodynamic performances by the young Swedish-Danish cellist Andreas Brantelid and eminent Swedish pianist Bengt Forsberg.

Rather than going for chronological sequence, they have placed the two comparatively late sonatas – complex and elusive to some, yet consistently life-affirming music – amid the better-known short works such as the Berceuse, the Sicilienne and the Elégie. Rarities include the Morceau de lecture (a piece for sight-reading) for two cellos, with Filip Graden playing the pizzicato accompaniment, and to close, the Andante for cello and harmonium that later became the Romance Op. 69 – bookending the disc with the same piece in its different versions. Though this might increase variety of pace, chronology would arguably work better with Fauré, as it is fascinating to follow his radical stylistic development. 

Brantelid’s light, bright, satiny tone suits Fauré’s style down to the ground – more of a high tenor than a hefty baritone – and Forsberg brings the composer’s piano writing into shimmering technicolor, splendidly capturing its wealth of detail and constantly shifting, side-lit harmonic language. The pair prove ardent in the soaring lament of the Elégie and suitably mercurial in the showpiece Papillon (Fauré hated that title). The Second Sonata takes wing beautifully, with great empathy emerging for Fauré’s lightfooted idiom in the late music that caused his colleague Vincent d’Indy to remark, ‘How lucky you are to stay young like that!’ The sound on this SACD recording has everything we’ve come to expect of BIS’s splendid audio quality, and very lovely it is.

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Jessica Duchen