> Robert Casadesus [RB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Robert CASADESUS (1899-1972)
Violin Sonata No. 1 (1927) [10.39]
Violin Sonata No. 2 (1941) [17.41]
Suite for Two Violins (1944) [15.10]
Hommage à Chausson (1955) [7.50]
Fritz Gearhart (violin)
John Owings (piano)
Kathryn Lucktenberg (violin) (suite only)
rec Beall Hall. University of Oregon School of Music, 20-22 March 2000, 14 June 2000.


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Robert Casadesus is best known to moderately well-informed music lovers as a pianist whose performances of most of the Mozart piano concertos, from No. 17 upwards, were staples of the CBS LP catalogue. Sony, as the successor in title, have been less inclined to release them on CD although Sony France last year (2001) issued a bargain box of some of them.

As a composer Casadesus inclines to lambent uncomplicated radiance - decidedly Gallic - more Ravel than Debussy. The First Sonata sings and smiles. If you like the Ravel String Quartet you will like this. It was dedicated to his teacher, the composer Marie-François Emmanuel (1862-1938). The Second Sonata, fourteen years onwards, has jazzy tendencies. Hearing its Allegretto and Allegro molto movements I would have guessed at a lost sonata by Constant Lambert - all Marseilles back-streets but lit by a Provençal sun. The Suite is in six movements and, perhaps inescapably, embraces the gravity suggested by the medium. It is not specially severe - witness the peppery intellectual Hoe-Down of the Finale. The Chausson Hommage at first persuades you that it will be a soulful soliloquy (on the notes C H A U S S O N - it was written for the Chausson centenary), which in part it is but soon it throws off these widow's weeds and accelerates with passion through a tripartite scherzo. It was dedicated to Zino Francescatti as was the Second Sonata.

The recording project as a whole is dedicated by Gearhart to Janet Ruth Brady. The leaflet is most beautifully produced. Koch often do very well in this department; witness the wonderful documentation for their Franz Waxman orchestral disc with Lawrence Foster.

I must mention that Gearhart and Owings have between them recorded for Koch three other CDs: Quincy Porter's unpublished music for violin and piano, a Copland, Still, Cowell and Dello Joio collection and the piano sonatas of Carter, Barber and Copland.

Casadesus's is approachable music from a Parisian composer whose muse is of a generally Mediterranean Gallic disposition. The music is lovingly performed by all concerned with a warming sense of dancing sunlight on choppy waters.

Rob Barnett

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