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Complete Works For Cello

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 11, 1995
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Product Details

  • Composer: Garbriel Faure
  • Audio CD (April 11, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 62 minutes
  • ASIN: B000003FTT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,620 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
When listening to any music, but classical music in particular, I live by the advice of some wise old public radio announcer (who I suspect also read Aaron Copland's bible on "What To Listen For In Music"): A great musical album is the combined product of 1.) well-written music, 2.) impeccably performed, and 3.) flawlessly recorded.

Well, here's Exhibit A.

This RCA recording of Steven Isserlis (mostly with pianist Pascal Devoyon) performing the cello works of Gabriel Faure is remarkable. It's truly unfortunate that most casual listeners of classical music are only familiar with Faure's "Dolly", "Requiem", or perhaps some of his fine piano compositions (of which there are many), because he has a fine catalog of other chamber works (violin sonatas, trios, quartets, quintets [stunning!] etc.), as well as some great orchestral works and songs.

His compositional style which combines typical French Impressionistic coloring with lush Romantic styling is clearly evident on these beautiful, playful, emotional cello works. Isserlis gives each piece his individual attention, and his phrasing seems effortless and spot on. The trademark tone of his cello is perfectly mic'd and reproduced here on this recording.

You'll love every minute of this brilliant album. It has that certain something that makes it stand out from the rest of your library as a special musical experience that you'll want to keep revisiting over and over (at the unfortunate expense of some worthy competitors in your collection!).

This is a "Top Ten" cd in my personal collection of over 800 classical cd's. You can't go wrong here, folks.

I value interesting music that is played and recorded well. This cd's rating was based on:
Music quality = 9.6/10; Performance = 9.7/10; Production = 9.5/10; CD length = 10/10.
Overall score weighted on my proprietary scale = 9.6 ("5 stars")
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I was about to say that his two cello sonatas found late Fauré at his very best, but it struck me that I have yet to hear any late Fauré work that is less than a masterpiece. In any case, both of the sonatas for cello and piano are late, and both are marvelous examples of the composer's tranquil, introspective, unmistakable sound world - long, somewhat unresolved, refined but gorgeous melodic lines, almost impressionistic harmonic uncertainty with marvelous, luminous textures. The second sonata remains the most popular due to its striking, stirring, utterly memorable melodic ideas - every detail a transient moment of breathtaking beauty (though not without energy and spirit) - but the first sonata is almost equally good.

The strangely beautiful first sonata (1918) opens with a wonderful, rhythmically assertive opening movement (from an early symphony), followed by a mesmerizing slow movement and one of the most enchanting, absorbing final movements in the repertoire. The even more secretive, luminously glowing second follows with a marvelous opening movement, an achingly melancholic, solemn slow movement and an exuberant (though still slightly elusive) finale. Thoroughly astonishing works, both of them, and given captivating performances here; Isserlis's fresh but warm tone is familiar enough, but in the performances here every single moment is a moment to savor; I cannot really imagine more sensitive, lushly beautiful accounts.

The only nitpick might possibly be the balance between the cello and the piano (though there is nothing to complain about with Devoyon's playing per se, I hasten to add); otherwise the sound is clear but warm. As encores we get Fauré's shorter pieces and arrangements for cello and piano; less profound and substantial works, true, but marvelous, imaginative impressions, thoroughly attractive, nonetheless. In short, this is a marvel of a disc, and definitely an essential acquisition.
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Its recordings like this that makes collecting classical music a joy. The composing is sophisticated yet subtle in its impact, the elegant performance wonderfully matches the spirit of the music and the brilliant sound engineering enhances the experience.

In these complete works for cello we see the graceful lyricism of a younger Faure who sought to restore some of the admiration of French chamber music lost to the increasingly popular opera in late 19th century Paris. Many will recognize the quintessential Faurian piece, "Sicilienne" Op. 78, and hear reflections of the eternally peaceful Requiem in the lovely Andante of the first cello sonata Op. 109. The later, more austere writing style of Faure possesses the last cello sonata.

Mr. Isserlis has risen to the top of modern cellists even by this mid-90's recording. His lines are long and lyrical while his tone warm but with the necessary tension when the score calls for. Sometimes his style has been a bit too "nervous and overly plaintive" for my taste in some Romantic pieces he recorded, but here in the urbane French sophistication of Gabriel Faure, Mr. Isserlis finds a perfect match and produces a most alluring result. Equally well-matched to these pieces is French pianist Pascal Devoyan whose performance is hard to fault. Compositions - 4.5 stars; Performance - 5 stars; Sound Quality - 4 stars.
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Format: Audio CD
Faure's compositions on this disc are consistently great works in his usual vein of subtle beauty. Isserlis has big, rich tone and the piano accompianist does a nice job. The sound is top notch. This is well worth your money and if you are not familiar with Faure it would be a great place to start. Any comment that these pieces sound alike is true only in that a cello and piano are involved. The pieces themselves have obviously varied musical content.
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