Fauré wrote this group of works near the end of his life, when he was suffering from increasing deafness and an acute condition which made listening to music agonising. It is extraordinary that he did not just abandon composition, but he said, ‘If I can't work any longer, then what am I doing here?' So Fauré gathered his force and produced some of the most deeply reflective and beautiful of all his works.
The Cello Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 109 is a fascinating and unsettling product of those dark days of the First World War. Fauré's youngest son was in the army and it is not hard to hear something of his father's anxiety in the sonata. The Cello Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 117 was written between March and November 1921 and this happier time is reflected in more contented music. Fauré's friend Vincent d'Indy, spoke for many when he complimented his fellow composer on the sheer ‘youthfulness' of this music: ‘plus the mastery of maturity. And it's so beautiful!' These works are here joined by Nocturne No. 13 in B minor, Op. 119, completed after the death of Fauré's closest friend, Camille Saint-Saëns. It was Fauré's last solo piano work and completed the second of two great work cycles, the Barcarolles and Nocturnes, which between them chart the course of Fauré's composing life and contain some of the composer's most intimate thoughts.
The Thirteenth Nocturne is as well the summation of the two sets. ‘Its grip is so powerful', wrote the great French pianist Yvonne Lefébure, ‘that there is no place for rational explanation..., it is the only example of a work in which not a single note could be changed or removed'. Completing the disc is the Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120, which despite its moments of drama unfolds with an easy-flowing serenity.
Kathryn Stott has received outstanding reviews for her recordings on Chandos and is best known for her performances of French music. BBC Music Magazine recently wrote, ‘Kathryn Stott reinforces her position as one of the finest Fauré interpreters of her generation'. She has also been behind several major festivals and concert series. For her involvement in ‘Fauré and the French Connection' she was appointed Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government. She is joined on this recording by the Swiss cellist Christian Poltéra who won a Borletti-Buitoni Trust in 2004, and was also a BBC New Generation Artist, and by the violinist Priya Mitchell, both here making their Chandos debut. These artists collaborate regularly in chamber music performances across the world.
'This is a very successful release, well recorded at Potton
Hall, Suffolk, a favourite haunt for chamber music these days.' Liverpool Daily Post
'Stott, always a devoted advocate of Fauré is a strong,
sensitive and galvanising force at the piano throughout. The eloquent
performances of the cello sonatas are complemented by the recording's crowning
glory, a fervent account of the fabulous Piano Trio.' Classic FM
'[Christian Poltéra]... is fine choice of cellist for the two
Sonatas. He phrases sensitively and makes the most of the composer's dynamic
markings, articulating with unusual clarity the music's structure. Kathryn
Stott's an ideal partner, managing her pedalling levels to produce a variety of
BBC Music Magzine
'The Nocturne is a serious and relatively extensive work
played with sensitivity and grandeur, while the Trio is one of Fauré's prime
late chamber pieces with a finale that sounds like a storm at sea. This is a
fine programme and played with understanding that brings it to the listener
fresh and full of meaning. Get it!' American Record Guide
'[Christian Poltéra's] projection of the solo line in both
sonatas is immaculate both in its wide range of tone-colour and its sensitivity
to the moment-to-moment rise and fall of the emotional temperature in the
smallest detail of the phrasing. Kathryn Stott is a perfect foil as
accompanist, finding great variety of touch to enliven the changing background
patterns, knowing instinctively when to advance into and recede from the
foreground.' International Record Review