Cellist Peter Somodari and pianist Nicolas Costantinou present Hedra, an album that takes the listener through key repertoire for cello and piano, from sonatas by Beethoven and Debussy and individual pieces by Faure to a world-premiere recording of the Cello Sonata No 1 by contemporary Greek Cypriot composer Contantinou Y. Stylianou.
The word ‘hedra’ refers to any side or face of a three-dimensional geometric shape. Any given face is not only connected to its neighbours, but together they contribute to and are part of the final shape. Similarly, every musical masterpiece is interconnected with those that follow, as it inevitably contributed to their formation, and this is reflected in the relationship between the works gathered together on this release. Beethoven pioneered the modern cello sonata, and from first to last his five cello sonatas chart a huge development in the genre. The Fourth, as recorded on this album, spans dark chromaticism, improvisatory freedom and extrovert exuberance in a manner that paved the way for later composers.
Faure’s amiable Sicilienne was composed as part of the incidental music for Moliere’s play, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, while his Elegie was originally conceived as the slow movement of an abandoned cello sonata. The Elegie was described by composer Patrick Castillo as honouring “grief as a multifaceted thing”, relating it to this album’s theme. Written late in his life while he struggled with illness and the impact of the First World War, Debussy’s Cello Sonata is founded on principles inherited from Beethoven and his contemporaries; Debussy said that his sonatas were composed “in the old supple forms (without the bombast of modern sonatas)”, and that the Cello Sonata is “almost Classical in the best sense of the word”.
Stylianou’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in C major is a further continuation of the question of the sonata form and whether it is still relevant today. The work was composed during spring 2020 and in the words of the composer: “I decided to channel all the fear and frustration of the pandemic in creating a work that deals with those aforementioned questions but in a personal way. It would be impossible to avoid feelings of that period seeping into the work, but at the same time, I wanted it to be a creation in pursuit of inner balance, which is after all what the sonata form is meant to be. Whatever the opposition of two musical ideas (or more) might be, in the end, it must find a resolution of some sort.”
Peter Somodari and Nicolas Costantinou have been performing together since their student days. Peter Somodari currently serves as the principal cellist of both the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Steinway Artist Nicolas Costantinou has previously recorded the music of Constantinos Y. Stylianou on the Odradek Records.