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The Mercurial World of Schumann's Cello

Sol Gabetta
Marco Borggreve
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Sol Gabetta

Sol Gabetta says that she can only touch her audience with “something that touches me,” and her latest recording does just that, with Schumann’s pieces for cello – our CD of the Week.

Cellist Sol Gabetta describes herself as half Argentinian and half Russian, with a French passport. Now 37, she’s built a career based on a profoundly generous impulse to share. The cello, she says, has always been a good fit physically, and from the very start, she heard that it “speaks with a human voice.”

Schumann heard that, too. He had played the cello for a time after realizing that damage to his hands would keep him from a career as a pianist. In 1850, it took him only two weeks to compose the cello concerto, and he kept considering it and tweaking it until 1854, when his own inner demons overwhelmed him – a mental breakdown that marked the end of his music and, two years later, the end of his life.

Gabetta plays the concerto on a 1759 Guadagnini cello, with the Basel Chamber Orchestra on period instruments. The recording is intimate, with Gabetta intoning every consonant and vowel with a real loving intensity. There’s a beautiful synchronicity with the orchestra through every outburst and fragile decay. This is a piece that gets more personal with every hearing.

The CD also includes the three Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73; the Five Pieces in Folk Style, and the Adagio and Allegro. For these Gabetta is joined by her good friend, pianist Bertrand Chamayou.  They have a playful and heartfelt real-life friendship, which must be part of what fuels their amazing musical connection. Here, Chamayou plays a piano of Schumann’s time – an 1847 Streicher from Vienna – which is downright haunting. It’s touching here, too, to hear Gabetta in search of a sound that mirrors Schumann’s mercurial and restless inner life.

Here’s a taste of Gabetta and Chamayou’s musical connection – the Five Pieces in Folk Style, filmed in France:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euo3XSlRQxM

For more information and to purchase this album, visit ArkivMusic.