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Saint-Saens: Cello Sonatas / Christian Poltera, Kathryn Stott


Release Date: 10/27/2009 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10552   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian PolteraKathryn Stott
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A very worthwhile disc with very sympathetic performances of some fascinating and attractive music.

Before hearing this disc I only knew the ubiquitous The Swan although if I had thought about it I would probably have assumed that the composer must have written more for cello and piano, as he did for so many other common combinations. It is part of the problem with as good and prolific a craftsman as Saint-Saëns that it is easy to take his merits and works for granted, without giving individual works the careful attention that they deserve. Certainly, for me at least, that has been the case with these works. The two Sonatas are very well worth getting to know – not merely beautifully written for the
Read more instruments and fluently put together but with something individual to say which is said in an interesting and economical way.
 
The First Sonata dates from the same period as the First Cello Concerto and shows the same amazing ability to ensure that the cello is never swamped by the other instruments. Whereas, for example, in the nearly comtemporary sonatas of Brahms there can often be a sense that the cellist is having to fight his corner for his part to register adequately, here all is clear with both instruments able to speak clearly and without having to force their way. That is not to say that the music is lacking in feeling or emotion. There is a sense of musical energy in the work that drives its three succinct movements forward. The performers make the most of every moment of the piece whilst not losing sight of its overall structure.
 
The Second Sonata is just as gripping a piece and performance but is very different in character. It was written earlier than the wonderful series of Sonatas for wind instruments and piano that the composer wrote after the Great War, but it shares with those works an apparent determination to preserve the classical values of composition and to show that whatever other composers were doing at the time there could still be life in the classical style of Beethoven and Mozart. Even then it includes such imaginative ideas as the opening for unaccompanied cello and the wonderful Scherzo in the form of a set of variations. Despite a length of over half an hour the Sonata never seems a moment too long, at least in this performance, and it too is well worth getting to know.
 
The three shorter pieces, including The Swan, are attractive if better not listened to in succession. Perhaps the Allegro Appassionato for the same combination would have provided more variety here. As a whole though, this is most certainly a very worthwhile disc with very sympathetic performances, clearly recorded, of some fascinating and attractive music.
  -- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 32 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian Poltera (Cello), Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
2. Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in F major, Op. 123 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian Poltera (Cello), Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; France 
3. Prière for Violin/Cello and Organ, Op. 158 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian Poltera (Cello), Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; France 
4. Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian Poltera (Cello), Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
5. Romance for Horn and Orchestra in F major, Op. 36 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Christian Poltera (Cello), Kathryn Stott (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 

Sound Samples

Cello Sonata in C minor, Op. 32: I. Allegro
Cello Sonata in C minor, Op. 32: II. Andante tranquillo sostenuto
Cello Sonata in C minor, Op. 32: III. Allegro moderato
Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 123: I. Maestoso, largamente - Tranquillo
Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 123: II. Scherzo con variazioni: Allegro animato
Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 123: III. Romanza: Poco adagio
Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 123: IV. Allegro non troppo grazioso
Priere, Op. 158: (version for cello and piano)
Carnival of the Animals (arr. for cello and piano): Carnival of the Animals: XIII. Le Cygne (The Swan) (version for cello and piano)
Romance in F major, Op. 36 (version for cello and piano)

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