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Franck, Brahms: Sonatas; Schumann / Wispelwey, Giacometti

Release Date: 12/10/2002 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 18602   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  César FranckJohannes BrahmsRobert Schumann
Performer:  Pieter WispelweyPaolo Giacometti
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Another triumph for this highly accomplished partnership, with gripping performances of two sonatas, neither of which was originally intended for the cello. Pieter Wispelwey and Paolo Giacometti open with an electrifying reading of the César Franck A-Major Sonata, in the Delsart edition. They clearly relish the rapture and mystery of the opening Allegro, and Giacometti's subtle under-play of emergent thematic material (his pedal work is eloquent throughout) allows the germinal ideas to assume more tangible forms once the cellist takes them up.

Wispelwey's tone is brighter and more focused here than with Stephen Isserlis in his memorable account with Devoyon (Virgin), but the music can take a slightly more deliberate
Read more approach, especially when rhythmic control is as assured yet fluid as Wispelwey's. For EMI, Du Pré and Barenboim (1971) took a directly comparable approach—flexible, yearning, but with the passionate undertow of the music still not held in check as effectively as with Wispelwey and Giacometti.

Some listeners might not find them so physically exciting in the second movement as Isserlis and Devoyon, since their chosen tempo is a notch slower, but Wispelwey obviously believes that tonal mass and dogged implacability are more important. He's probably right, and gives no quarter to the disruptive rhythmic liberties taken by Mischa Maisky in his latest DG recording. Maisky's wildly flamboyant tempo changes, un-notated accelerandos, and crashing accents wreck the movement, and it's a miracle Argerich stays with him so well. Wispelwey does what's needed when the score dictates, so when the flood-gates are finally opened in the coda, there's no let-up of declamatory power and urgency. The Recitativo-Fantasia (III) goes equally well, but the finale is thrilling, with cyclic references to themes from earlier in the work delivered with maximal power and nobility of utterance.

The cello transcription (recast in D Major) of the G-Major Brahms Violin Sonata, op. 78, receives a similarly effective reading, but if you're already familiar with Wispelwey and Giacometti in the two "official" cello sonatas, ops. 38 and 99 (Channel CCS 5493), you'll know just what to expect. Nor do these players disappoint even the highest expectations with a reading that's remarkable for its pristine clarity of articulation, burnished tone, and musical eloquence. There's an unhurried easy grace informing this account, ideal for Brahms, and the textural layering of thematic lines, especially in the central adagio, is superb. It's good to hear, too, how sensitively Giacometti manages the dense chordings of the piano part, never forcing Wispelwey to play more forcefully than he wishes, even in the complex exchanges of the opening Vivace. Only the Orfeo performance from Boris Pergamenschikow and Pavel Gillilov proves as satisfying in this regard.

This CD also includes the op. 70 Adagio und Allegro by Schumann, an ideal foil to the two sonatas offered. The performance is again admirably considered, and the fact that the Allegro isn't too fast means that the essential nobility of the music is preserved. Recorded sound is very fine, too, with both players naturally balanced and with the warm but not over-reverberant acoustic of the Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer-f/The Netherlands) providing a perfect backdrop for these persuasive traversais.

-- Michael Jameson, FANFARE [1/2003]

This selection is a Hybrid Multichannel Super Audio CD. The Stereo Hybrid SACD program can be played on any standard compact disc player. The DSD Surround and Stereo programs require an SACD player for playback.
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, M 8 by César Franck
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello), Paolo Giacometti (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Netherlands 
Length: 27 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 1 in G major, Op. 78 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello), Paolo Giacometti (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Austria 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Netherlands 
Length: 26 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Adagio and Allegro for Horn/Cello and Piano in A flat major, Op. 70 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pieter Wispelwey (Cello), Paolo Giacometti (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 2001 
Venue:  Doopsgezinde Kerk, Deventer, Netherlands 
Length: 8 Minutes 15 Secs. 

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