Preserving energy, planning ahead and prioritising phrasing in every line are key to cellist Antonio Meneses’s interpretation of the fourth movement
It was perhaps 35 years ago when I played the Franck Sonata for the first time, and I enjoyed it less than I thought I would. It is the most beautiful piece and there are many good reasons why people transcribe it on to different instruments, but on the cello somehow I was not satisfied with the result. It sounded too dark and sombre, not shining and full of light like the higher violin version. After that I didn’t play it again until around ten years ago, when I noticed something that saved the piece for me: Jules Delsart’s cello transcription is sometimes two octaves lower than the original, rather than just one. I asked myself why: was it to make it easier and more attractive for cellists to play? I also realised that it was possible to transpose parts of the first movement and much of the last movement up one octave, to create a lighter feeling similar to what the violin is able to do. It does make things a little more difficult to play, but I find that now it sounds almost as good on the cello as it does on the violin. It is a violin piece, after all!
One of the last times I played this piece was with pianist Menahem Pressler, who took the fourth movement incredibly slowly, in four. At first I felt as though I was running out of breath, but he is a genius musician, so in the end I followed him and we made it work. In general, however, I prefer to think of it in a fluid and more energetic two…
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