The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: An ideal survey of Fauré’s music for cello and piano
Musicians: Alban Gerhardt (cello) Cecile Licad (piano)
Composer: Fauré

Bar a few frequently performed masterpieces such as the Requiem, Fauré’s larger-scale works, not least the cello sonatas, seem to elude concert planners. The sonatas are both late works and somewhat dark, but they are nonetheless quite magical in the way their melodic lines curve enigmatically through the scores. As ever, Alban Gerhardt delivers idiomatic and stylish performances, acutely sympathetic to the fluid harmonic idiom and colouring the cello part exquisitely. Equally, pianist Cecile Licad presents beautifully flowing playing, with a complete mastery of the music’s quintessential delicacy and emotional elusiveness.

The shorter pieces are better known and frequently appear in examination syllabuses. Their glory, however, remains intact, particularly the Élégie, which is strewn with pathos, fervour and heroism. I particularly like the duo’s performance of this work and of Papillon, which conjures up darting butterfly-like movement sandwiched between a hauntingly melancholic melody. They are equally poetic in the golden Romance, and captivating in the Sérénade dedicated to Casals.

My only minor reservation with this excellently recorded CD is the inclusion of a second performance of the First Sonata’s finale, played at a faster tempo to reflect some ambiguity over the metronome marking. Personally, I’d rather have had another work, even though it would have had to be a transcription.   

Joanne Talbot