An inspiring, enjoyable, powerhouse meeting between two award-winning highly-individualistic classical music superstars who consider their initial meeting as fateful, not coincidence. Hélène Grimaud (who is called "the earth" in their interview), one of the greatest interpretative classical pianists who experiences sound as colors, and star cello virtuoso Sol Gabetta ("the air"), famed for the nuanced, singing quality of her instrumental interpretations and her highly emotional playing, meld their 'earth and air' talents and personae into a marvelous musical duo. It began in 2011 in a joyful, fateful musical encounter that 'clicked' immediately. In a wide spectrum of musical tastes, they cover the duo compositions of Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Claude Debussy, and Dmitri Shostakovich, and this diverse program works wonderfully and has toured to great success. All performances are excellent and the 'best of the best' begins with the 'storm to calm' of the 'Finale' of Debussy's Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in D Minor; the awesome beauty and virtuosity of the spellbinding 12 minute Shostakovich Allegro non troppo from the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano in D minor, Opus 40; the fiery third movement of Schumann's 'Drei Fantasiestücke' (Three Fantasies), Opus 73; and both the overpowering beauty of the familiar 14 minute Allegro non troppo and the sizzling, breathtaking 6 minute Allegro-Più presto movements of Brahms Sonata for Piano and Violoncello No 1 in E minor, Opus 38. Awesome performances by two great artists who form a dynamic duo of singular musical purpose. My Highest Recommendation! Five OUTSTANDING Stars! (13 tracks; Time 73 minutes, 45 seconds. Booklet notes in English, German, and French.)
Sol Gabetta made a very good impression recently in her Wigmore Hall recital with Bertrand Chamayou, and here her innate musicality and joy in playing are once again very evident with another French pianist, Helene Grimaud. The recital presents four masterpieces for cello and piano that make a superb sequence (they are: Schumann Drei Fantasiestucke op. 73, Brahms Sonata no. 1 op. 38, Debussy Sonata, Shostakovich Sonata in D minor op. 40.) For me the Shostakovich is a discovery and I was worried I might not like it, but in fact it has a strongly lyrical aspect, following on from the Debussy in a style that almost sounds like late Faure (a composer I feel much more at home with) and having some beautiful harmonies in the first movement which really grow on you with repeated listening. The scherzo sounds a bit like Mendelssohn(!), if a bit heavier - the whole effect is emotionally more gentle than I often find with this composer; the rebarbative edge is hardly there, nor the irony ... Nor does it seem despairing, even in the searching slow movement. In short, it stands very well with the other three works, where I had feared it might be too gloomy a companion piece. The Schumann is a glorious outpouring of song that doesn't erase the memory of say Gautier Capucon and Martha Argerich from Verbier but is nevertheless very lovely, perhaps a little less mercurial ... however they are certainly this in the Debussy, where their ensemble seems particularly marvellous. All the fleeting moods of the work are felt by both players in perfect accord, and its lightness in Debussy's late, more pared-down manner is beguiling indeed ... This leaves the Brahms, which is given a performance full of nobility, aided by the beautiful, resonant DG recording. The passion of this extraordinary work is fully realised and leaves you wishing no. 2 was there too. The liner notes tell us nothing about the music, but rather give us a charming interview with the two performers, which in a sense I prefer as the information can be got elsewhere. They seem to have a terrific rapport - Gabetta likens Grimaud to a house in which she feels safe, and the dialogue is quite delightful. Gabetta also has this to say which strikes me particularly: "I try to make a point of never forgetting the moments of fulfilment and happiness, and whenever I am unhappy or dissatisfied, I remember those moments, and my confidence returns." I like this! - as I do every moment of the music-making on this disc.