FRENCH CELLO SONATAS 1871-1939
STEPHEN SENSBACH

Sensbach Book CoverStephen Sensbach studied at the University of Texas and in Detmold, Germany, and is presently a cellist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.

His new book is a large one, 6 and 3/4 inches wide, and 9 and 1/2 inches tall, with 322 pages of clear, average-size print. The glossy cover features a painting of cellist Pierre Destombes by Paul Gauguin, the original of which hangs in the Baltimore Museum of Art. Of special interest are the other 70 drawings, photos and works of art which add interest to the text.

This book is pioneering study of over 130 French cello sonatas and their composers - a treasure trove for cellists, cello enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the music of the age of Debussy and Ravel. Sensbach surveys over one hundred published cello sonatas, and thirty-seven unpublished sonatas written by French composers during this fertile period. He brings to light many unknown works and provides new perspectives on those that are better known.

Sensbach presents the historical background of each piece and provides biographies of the composers. There are also biographies of cellists and pianists of the period, many of whom were well known at the time but have since faded into undeserved obscurity. Technical information is provided for each sonata. A brief description is made of each movement, covering form, style and level of difficulty for the performers. Where possible, excerpts of original reviews and comments from the composers' letters have been included. The book is richly illustrated with contemporary photographs and drawings, many published here for the first time.

Appendix nine features short biographies of nearly 90 French cellists, a few of which are well-known, but some relatively obscure. Many a young cellist has practiced long hours on the Scherzo by Van Goens, and wondered about the identity of the composer. Wonder no longer, his biography is in this book.

For anyone interested in French cellists and works for the cello, this book is an absolute must. Also, it will become a standard reference book, and should be in the library of every music school around the world. I found the book to be interesting and full of valuable information, and I recommend it highly.

This paperback edition was published September 25, 2001 by the Lilliput Press, Ltd., Dublin. The price of the book is £17.95. If you would like more information about this book, or would like to interview Stephen Sensbach, please contact Liam Carson at Dublin 6711647 or mobile 087-2912797, who will be very glad to help you.

Reviewed by "drcello," October 23, 2001.

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