“A book could be written on the significance of music in the work of Proust,” declared Samuel Beckett in 1931. Marcel Proust’s love of music was profoundly intellectual and deeply heartfelt; he wrote articles about his composer contemporaries, had string quartets performed in his bedroom, and made a mysterious violin sonata central to the narrative of his seven-volume magnum opus In Search of Lost Time.

Marcel Proust

It is to this world of Proust’s elite Parisian salons, hubs of late 19th-century French chamber music, that cello maestro Steven Isserlis and acclaimed Canadian pianist Connie Shih journey on this latest recording. This follows their lauded 2017 outing The Cello in Wartime (BIS), released during the period of WWI centenary commemorations and featuring works from the early 20th century, some of which are performed by Isserlis on a ‘trench cello’ constructed by soldiers from materials at hand and played in the battlegrounds of Ypres.

The works on Music from Proust’s Salons are from an earlier era (but not unrelated) and by composers with various connections to Proust. The program pillars are two sonatas presented in slightly unusual ways. The Cello Sonata No. 1 (Op. 32) of...