Cello Sonata in A Major, Op.20
Albéric Magnard (1865-1914) was born in Paris to wealthy parents. His father François Magnard was a bestselling author and editor of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. After military service and graduating from law school, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied counterpoint with Théodore Dubois, Jules Massenet and Vincent d'Indy. Magnard's musical output numbered only 22 works with opus numbers. Larger compositions such as symphonies were his main area of interest, however, he did write a piano trio, this string quartet and some instrumental sonatas. Magnard's musical style is typical of French composers contemporaneous to him, but occasionally, there are passages that foreshadow the music of Gustav Mahler. Magnard's use of cyclical form was influenced by Cesar Franck
His Cello Sonata dates from 1910 and is his penultimate work. The opening movement, San lenteur, unlike the remaining three movements, a lyrical theme is introduced before a more rhythmic contrasting theme. In between, we find an unusual fugue, at times capricious and light in mood. The second movement, Sans Faiblir, is a short scherzo. It is almost entirely dominated by rhythmic, stamping themes. The trio section, is entirely different, dreamy and poetic. The third movement, Funebre, follows without a pause (attacca). It is infused with a noble sadness. The finale, Rondement, is full of good spirits and action.