As cellist Alexander Rudin playfully announces in his introductory
paragraph in the booklet notes; those miniatures which may sound
familiar were not originally composed for the cello “and conversely
those less familiar were!” He has compiled a disc of pieces that
reflect youthful enthusiasms and in particular his predilection
for transcriptions. The result is that he includes three songs
(texts included), is accompanied by two different pianists – for
reasons explained later – and also by the Musica Viva Orchestra.
Plenty to interest the cello lover then.
The Saint-Saëns is
notable for some very sensitive scaling down of the cellistic
accompanying figures. Many a fine violinist has ruined a performance
through over projection of his subsidiary material but that’s
not a mistake an experienced chamber player like Rudin makes.
What this transcription lacks is the cutting, jutting brilliance
of the violin, though Rudin does play with declamatory élan and
power. He plays four Paganini Caprices. These are obviously slower
to “sound” on the cello so the Ninth sounds less athletic. In
the hands of a Primrose of an Emanuel Vardi one finds that the
viola has a greater tensile sense of projection in the Caprices
– listen to Vardi’s complete caprices on Cembal d’amour CD129.
Still, Rudin brings mordant wit to the Seventeenth with those
rather lugubrious sounding lower strings. The Brahms is powerful
but not over-projected.
Next is a series
of less well-known pieces. Aleksandr Alyabiev (1787-1851)
grew up in St Petersburg and fought in the Napoleonic wars.
He wrote operas and songs. His Elegy is almost a scena
– an appealingly lyric song with cello obbligato, progressing
through recitative to more fulsome expression; it’s full of
moods and feeling, touchingly sung here by Jana Ivanilova.
Its companion is Under the Blue Skies – a longer, pleasant
but less eventful setting. Late Romantic warmth infuses Arensky’s
Lily of the Valley, to words by Tchaikovsky after which
the Danse Capricieuse comes a good contrast.
on Le Coq d’Or – a typo renders it as Cog d’Or – was recorded
back in 1984 hence Vladimir Skanavi is the pianist. It was
made live and is rather boxy but there’s some brilliant passagework
on display and some enviably athletic music making. The Tchaikovsky-Glenn
Romance allows us to savour Rudin’s legato in all its
persuasive warmth. And to finish, a peculiarity in the form
of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria which can be heard
here with orchestra, in this transcription by Andrei Golovin.
Rudin has constructed
an iconoclastic programme with internal logic and he plays
with great eloquence and warmth; he makes us believe in these