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Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b.1932)
The Ancient Melodies of Russian Folk-songs (2007) [17:53]
Cello Sonata (1996) [34:24]
In the Style of Albeniz (1959) [4:36]
Quadrille from Nicht nur Liebe (1961) [6:57]
Raphael Wallfisch (cello)
Rodion Shchedrin (piano) rec. Wyastone, Monmouthshire, 25 May 2007
NIMBUS NI 5831 [63:53]

Experience Classicsonline


This disc surveys work for cello and piano created over almost the entirety of this Russian composer's life. The distinguished cellist Raphael Wallfisch who performs beautifully is accompanied by the composer.

Shchedrin was a successor to Shostakovich, who was clearly a strong influence, at the Moscow Conservatory. His work is also deeply affected by a keen interest in Russian folklore and folksong, as in the first work on this disc. He also has the distinction of introducing classics of Russian literature including Nabokov, Gogol and Tolstoy - to the theatre in the forms of both opera and ballet.

In some ways his style looks back rather than forwards from his predecessor Shostakovich. Although post-Soviet composers have broken new - and sometimes re-visited very old - ground, this music seems to be more closely influenced by the first half than the second half of the twentieth century.

The first - and most recent work sets five melodies from Rimsky-Korsakov's 100 Russian Folk Songs. The influences not only of Rimsky-Korsakov but also of Prokofiev and Stravinsky are apparent.

The second work, the Sonata, was written in 1996 and dedicated to Rostropovich, for whom Shchedrin had already written a concerto. It is a challenging work in which the piano and the cello are often in opposition rather than co-operation. There are three movements allegretto, moderato and sostenuto assai.

In the Style of Albeniz is an early work, written when the composer was only 20 years of age. He went on to extend his interest in music in the Spanish style by writing a Suite and two Tangos. This short piece was originally one of a set of ten pieces for solo piano - his own instrument - but has also been transcribed not only for cello (as here) but also for trumpet and piano.

The closing Quadrille was arranged for piano and cello by Grigory Singer from an episode drawn from Shchedrin's first opera Not Love Alone (1961). Like the opening work, it draws heavily on both folk-like tunes and the influence of Stravinsky. It has a humorous and satirical tone which brings some welcome light relief.

The quality of performance alone makes this disc worth buying. It is a great pleasure to listen to Wallfisch and the disc is also well recorded with excellent sound quality. The music is not well known and will be of particular interest to those who enjoy recent Russian music.

Julie Williams






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