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Perhaps somewhat neglected in German-speaking countries, the French music for cello and piano of the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century contains some masterfully crafted chamber music pearls that are absolutely worth listening to.

It is noteworthy that many of the works collected in this program were created in close proximity to military conflicts. How differently the various composers reacted artistically to this situation is very insightful and provides an extra layer of "extramusical context" to this program.

Camille Saint-Saëns completed his first Cello Sonata op. 32 in December 1872 immediately after his first cello concerto. The work is strongly reminiscent of Beethoven, not only because of the key of c - minor, but above all because of its gripping drama.

Maurice Ravel described his Pavane pour une infante défunte as "a reminiscence of a Pavane that a little princess might have danced at the Spanish court"; it is "not a mourning for a dead child, but an idea of ​​a pavane, as it might have been danced by a little princess in a painting by Velázquez."

In 1915, three years before his death, Claude Debussy began a cycle of 'Six sonatas pour divers instruments', which he conceived in conscious reference to the French baroque art of sonatas. Of the six sonatas he had planned, he was only able to complete three, including the Sonata for Cello and Piano.

This sonata does not exhibit the traditional four-movement structure of an academic sonata form of German chamber music. The three movements are kept in free form, their poetic titles refer to the extra-musical: to poetry and drama, antiquity and nature. Their style is characterized by elegance and poetic magic - characteristics that Debussy found to be typically French. (kammermusikfü

In 1877 Saint-Saëns published his Romance for cello and piano op. 51 in D major. In the style of a real short romance, the vocal qualities of the cello are emphasized.

The Parisian composer Francis Poulenc was already 41 years old when he was drafted into the military in the fateful year of 1940. After demobilization he remained in south-west France and sketched his only Cello Sonata there in the summer of 1940. In 1948 he completed it at the request of Pierre Fournier.

The form corresponds vaguely to the four-movement layout of a Romantic "Grande Sonata": Two fast outer movements frame a Romantic Adagio (Cavatine in F sharp major!) and a Scherzo (Ballabile). Of course, Poulenc broke off in an ironic way with the romantic tradition of the instrument.

The Romance op. 36 for horn by Camille Saint-Saëns is a short “song without words”. In addition to the orchestral version, Saint-Saëns also prepared a piano accompaniment for chamber music performances. The first editions already provided for an alternative instrumentation for cello.

In this program, Gaspar Cassado's Requiebros pays homage to the "home of longing" of so many French composers and artists. Cassado was one of the greatest Spanish cellists of his time, a student of Pablo Casals and also a prolific composer. Requiebros ("flattery") is a charmingly exuberant encore piece that exudes fiery Spanish flair.


C. Saint-Saens: Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 32

M. Ravel: Pavane pour une infante defunte

C.Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano, D minor

C. Saint-Saens: Romance in D major, Op. 51

F. Poulenc: Sonata for cello and piano 1948

C. Saint-Saens: Romance in F major, Op. 36

G. Cassado: Requiebros


Peter Hudler, Violoncello

Paul Gulda, Piano


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