Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Cello Sonatas 1, op. 109 (1917) and 2, op. 117 (1921), Elégie, op. 24 (1880)
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Cello Sonata (1915)
Paul Tortelier (cello), Jean Hubeau (piano)
Locations and dates not given
WARNER CLASSICS Elatus 0927-49012-2 [55í 04"]

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On a date which must have been only a few years after the making of this disc I was an impressionable schoolboy sitting literally at the great manís feet (first or second row with the stage towering above me) at a recital in what was then called Ashford High School (Kent) which included one of the Fauré sonatas. Performers of this calibre didnít often come to Ashford and I was quite mesmerised. Tortelier was one of those performers you really have to see to get the full force of his magnetic personality; his whole body seemed to communicate his love of the music and his desire to get it across to the public. Before the performance he delighted us with a little speech in his rapid, voluble and very French-sounding English in which he showed us (with the pianist Geoffrey Pratleyís help) how Fauré used the "Tristan-chord" during the sonata.

While some performers in the "you really have to see them" category can disappoint when heard cold on disc, records show that Tortelierís communicative abilities were grounded on a perfect technique and a very high level of musicianship, while his passionate commitment emerges from the loudspeakers just as clearly as it did in the concert hall. With Jean Hubeau a fine partner it would be impossible to imagine finer performances of this music.

Late Fauré can seem austere beside his younger self (the much earlier Elégie obviously comes from the same delicately perfumed plant as "Après un rêve") but in Tortelierís hands these sonatas emerge glowing with humanity. If we remember how some of Debussyís first piano pieces inhabit much the same world as Fauréís, we can only marvel at how far apart the two had travelled by the time of their late cello sonatas. Tortelier is master of the wide range of moods which Debussyís pithy little masterpiece encompasses, from infinite sadness to fierce exultation, and again reveals the humanity of a work which can seem more elusive in other hands.

The only information we get about this recording is that it was published by Erato in 1962; the Fauré pieces were issued in Great Britain by World Record Club in 1967. Though it obviously hasnít quite the bloom of the best 2002 products it is really very good indeed for its age. The booklet has a good note in three languages. An indispensable disc.

Christopher Howell

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