Faure: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Nocturne No. 13, Op. 119; Piano Trio, Op. 120

COMPOSERS: Faure
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré
WORKS: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Nocturne No. 13, Op. 119; Piano Trio, Op. 120
PERFORMER: Priya Mitchell (violin), Christian Poltéra (cello), Kathryn Stott (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Chandos CHAN 10447

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It’s a good idea to compile a selection of Fauré’s late chamber music, given that it sounds like little else by any other composer, or indeed even like early Fauré works such as the Piano Quartets or the First Violin Sonata. Christian Poltéra, too, is a fine choice of cellist for the two Sonatas. He phrases sensitively and makes the most of the composer’s dynamic markings, articulating with unusual clarity the music’s structure. Kathryn Stott is an ideal partner, managing her pedalling levels to produce a variety of textures. They take the central movements more slowly than Thomas Igloi and Clifford Benson (CRD), but without ever imperilling the sense of growth: the slow movement in the Second Sonata gains from this calmer melancholy and engaging chamber interplay, which so commended him to audiences across Europe in the 1880s, is everywhere apparent in these two works and perhaps at its most engaging in the first movement of the B flat Trio. Unfortunately, while certainly giving an infectious performance, the Florestan Trio are not at their best in the B flat: tempos often seem unsettled and there is little sense of magic in the luminous latter parts of the first movement’s development. This is a serviceable account, but it falls a long way short of the Vienna Piano Trio’s inspired reading. Their performance of the G minor Trio is in a different league. Here the flexible approach to tempo and melodic detail does much to enhance the work’s expressive language without losing any sense of line. Impressive in nearly every detail, their rendition approaches very closely the Borodin Trio’s benchmark recording. Excellently balanced and recorded, these performances, combined with a superbly intense reading of Suk’s brief Elegy make for a very estimable issue.