ALBUM TITLE: Fauré
WORKS: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Elégie; Romance; Papillon; Sérénade; Sicilienne; etc
PERFORMER: Alban Gerhardt (cello), Cecile Licad (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67872
Fauré’s Cello Sonatas are late works, characterised by long, highly charged sequences, lyrically static, but reaching strange heights of intensity. Both, therefore, are difficult to shape and need visionary performers – which, fortunately, we have here. One has a powerful sense of Cecile Licad and Alban Gerhardt’s compelling grasp of architecture.
Too often Fauré is approached with dreamy smoothness, so a sense of virility is welcome. But while the first movement of Sonata No. 1 has a martial edge, it’s a shame that Gerhardt’s sound borders on an almost painful roughness. Steven Isserlis’s gritty but debonair approach here is more successful (BMG), but there the comparison ends: this duo benefit from a far clearer and better balanced recording. After their disappointing start, the Andante sings with limpid grace, Licad’s melting lines are wonderfully voiced, and we have a choice of finales – one at Fauré’s own controversially slow tempo, and one at the performer’s preferred, faster tempo.
In the Second Sonata, Gerhardt captures the first movement’s exalted energy. The Andante is touchingly restrained and the breezy finale fairly seethes with vivacity.