A captivating end to a centenary year
Julian Haylock swoons over elegant performances of Debussy’s late sonatas
Violin Sonata; Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp; Cello Sonata; Berceuse héroïque; Pièce pour l’oeuvre du ‘Vêtement du blessé’; Élégie; Les Soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon
Magali Mosnier (flute), Isabelle Faust (violin), Antoine Tamestit (viola), Jean-guihen Queyras (cello), Xavier de Maistre (harp), Alexander Melnikov, Tanguy de Williencourt, Javier Perianes (piano) Harmonia Mundi HMM 902303 54:02 mins Debussy’s three late chamber sonatas are among the most exquisite of all his creative progeny, offering a tantalising fusion of the infinite and finite, of pseudo-improvisatory gestures operating within a malleable structural framework. Incredibly it took nearly a century for performing styles to catch up with Debussy’s visionary writing. Until recently this music was almost invariably viewed and experienced through a prism of 19th-century rhetoric – listening to Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov deftly tracing the evanescent contours of the Violin Sonata comes therefore as something of a revelation.
So, too, Jean-guihen Queyras and Javier Perianes in the Cello Sonata, the first of the three to be composed, whose piquant patterning (especially in the central ‘Sérénade’) seemingly trace the elusive trajectory of a butterfly in a summer breeze. Most striking of all is the enchanting triple sonata, whose harp-inflected musings appear to float free of musical gravity in this hypnotic account from Xavier de Maistre, Antoine Tamestit and Magali Mosnier. Four piano rarities played with beguiling sensitivity by Tanguy de Williencourt round out one of the most captivating releases of the Debussy centenary year. PERFORMANCE
Faust and Melnikov deftly trace the Violin Sonata’s contours
Butterfly effect: Queyras’s cello gently soars Hear extracts from this recording and the rest of this month’s choices on the BBC Music Magazine website at www.classical-music.com