Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19.
Cello Sonata in D minor, Op. 40.
The Bekova Sisters (Alfa Nakipbekova, cello, Eleonora Nakipbekoba, piano).
Claudio CR3911-2 [DDD] [66'27]

This is a re-release of a disc originally issued in 1989. Two of the three Bekova sisters, caught here in their pre-Chandos days, present two Russian cello sonatas on this disc. The coupling is a good one: the yearning, passionate Rachmaninov goes well with the serious, more internalised Shostakovich.

Alfia is capable of long, singing lines, and so in the Rachmaninov the nostalgic quality of the first movement and the wistful character of the third come off well. Both protagonists capture the agility of the Allegro scherzando and convey a real sense of enjoyment.

Perhaps the profundities of the Shostakovich remain slightly out of reach for the Bekovas. Despite being technically accurate, the second movement is played on the surface, although the Largo does emerge appropriately angst-laden.

Daniil Shafran offers the same coupling on Russian Revelation RC10017, a preferable alternative if you want to get to the heart of this music. The present offering is a more workaday affair which, despite many moments of beauty, never really takes off.

The recording, made in St John's, Smith Square, needs to give more depth to the piano sound.


Colin Clarke



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