Magnard, Koechlin, Widor

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Koechlin,Magnard,Widor
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Cello Sonata in A, Op. 20; Chansonnes bretonnes, Book 3; Cello Sonata in A, Op. 80
PERFORMER: Mats Lidström (cello)Bengt Forsberg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67244
This is a first-rate disc of unfamiliar repertoire, beautifully played and recorded. Mats Lidström imparts a real sense of advocacy to three very different works and composers. He’d already recorded Koechlin’s 12 published Chansons bretonnes for Hyperion some years ago without being aware, he tells us, of the existence of a further nine unpublished numbers, which he premieres here. If anything these pieces are even more beautiful than those in the published sets; their sheer simplicity allows Lidström to display his refinement of tone and quite remarkable range of colour.

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Widor’s Sonata of 1907, though ambitious and full of sterling invention, is not quite the masterpiece that Lidström claims, but characterful and well worth hearing, especially when so ardently expounded. The 1911 Sonata of Albéric Magnard, by contrast, really is a taut, urgent masterpiece which richly deserves to be much better known. The middle movements – a powerfully concise scherzo, which segues into a deeply expressive funèbre slow movement – are among the finest music this admirable and still-underrated composer ever wrote. Both sonatas are demanding pieces, calling for considerable virtuosity from both performers: Lidström and Forsberg rise triumphantly to their challenges with some of the most expressive and exciting playing I’ve heard recently. Unhesitatingly recommended. Calum MacDonald