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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



The Ysaÿe Connection
Guillaume LEKEU (1870-1894)

Cello Sonata in G (1893)
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Cello Sonata in A (1886)
Eugène YSAŸE (1858-1931)

Sonata for unaccompanied cello Op. 28 (1924)
Rêve d'Enfant Op. 14 (1901)
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
John York (piano)
rec. 7-9 July 2002, Champs Hill, West Sussex. DDD
CELLO CLASSICS CC1009 [78.25]

AVAILABILITY

27 Windsor Road
London N3 3SN
Phone 0208 346 1480
Fax 0208 349 4339
www.celloclassics.com
info@celloclassics.com

With the exception of the Ysaÿe Op. 28 sonata all of the works on this CD were originally written for violin.

Lekeu died young before his 24th birthday but there is nothing unformed about his Cello Sonata written within twelve months of his death. It is a work of passionate engagement and of song caught on the wing. Here in the hands of Wallfisch and York it breathes a positively Russian intensity into an art nouveau opulence. Its overpowering cantabile quality is reminiscent of Chausson's chamber Concert. Ysaÿe's Rêve is all you would quietly expect of a work with that title. The cello transcription of the famous Franck violin sonata sounds completely idiomatic and is lent a glowing amber depth by the baritone character of the instrument. Amazing how well the finale suits the sound of the cello. It reminded me of Moray Welsh's superb reading of the John Foulds' Cello Sonata - incidentally a work totally undeserving its abject neglect. Now if only Cello Classics would be prepared to record that work with Mr Welsh.

Now to the only work here that was originally written for the cello. The Ysaÿe Op. 28 was published in 1924 just after the death of the composer's wife Louise, Quite apart from the technical resource required Ysaÿe shows a thoughtful practicality in the tight timing of each of the four movements - a recognition of the needs of listeners when confronted with a solo string instrument through the expanses of a sonata? Across its four movements the music reflects and muses in dark and at times macabre ways. This is highly introspective music written with a knowing awareness of new idioms. It is but a step away from this into the Bax Rhapsodic Ballad and the Kodaly unaccompanied cello sonata. By the way the famous Starker recording of the Kodaly (presumably on that Saga LP) was used to keep the young Raphael Wallfisch happy as a baby!

By the way: Wallfisch’s father was Peter Wallfisch whose championing of Frank Bridge’s Phantasm (both in the BBC studio with the English Chamber Orchestra and on a Lyrita LP) paralleled the work of that outstanding cellist Thomas Igloi on behalf of Bridge’s Oration. Peter Wallfisch was also a long-term supporter of the music of Kenneth Leighton whose first two piano concertos he premiered.

This disc is as generously timed as the equally attractive Shafran historical on the same label (CC1008).

I couldn't resist suggesting one new project to Cello Classics and here is another. Who on earth now holds the rights in the famous Saga recording of Janos Starker in the Kodaly unaccompanied cello sonata. This would be a project that, with the original Duo coupling, would be welcomed widely and not just by cello specialists.

To the subject in hand. This is a very successful disc carried off with burnished conviction and flare by a cellist who has, through his Chandos connection, explored great swathes of the cello repertoire.

Recommended to those curious about Ysaÿe and Lekeu as well as to cello fanciers everywhere.

Rob Barnett



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