Cello Sonatas - No. 1 in D, Op. 12; No. 2 in A minor, Op. 81
Cello Concerto in C minor, Op.
Maria Tarasova (cello); Alexander
Moscow New Opera Orchestra/Yevgeny Samoilov.
Rec 1990s Moscow
REGIS RRC1050 [DDD]
Purchase for around £6 from your dealer
A fascinating release, originally issued on Olympia (OCD530): the two cello
sonatas come from opposite ends of Miaskovsky's long composing career (they
date from 1911 and 1948/9 respectively). Known most often for who he taught
rather than what he wrote (Kabalevsky, Khachaturian and Shebalin were amongst
his pupils) his own output was left a little behind. His output was large,
however, including no less than 27 symphonies, nine piano sonatas and 13
There is a thread of essentially Russian yearning which runs through the
First Cello Sonata of 1911 (revised 1930/1). Indeed, there are distinct
parallels to be made with Rachmaninov's emotional world: the end of Miaskovsky's
Sonata is notable for its touching, melancholy atmosphere. Tarasova is
appropriately rich in timbre and displays a wide variety of tone in response
to this music. She interacts well with her pianist, Alexander Polezhaev,
who seems curiously faceless in the first movement but displays more character
as the work progresses.
The Second Sonata (written for Rostropovich and originally planned
as a sonata for viola d'amore) is a confident piece of writing which poses
many challenges for its interpreters. It was written at the same time as
the last two symphonies and the last three piano sonatas. Polezhaev displays
more spirit here, and both players are both sensitive and impassioned by
turns in the Andante cantabile. Both players warm to the spirited
folk-like themes of the finale.
The C minor Cello Concerto is relatively popular, and, like the 21st
Symphony, received a Stalin prize. The principal competition comes from Truls
Mørk (with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Paavo
Järvi, Virgin Classics VC5 45282-2) and Rostropovich (with the Philharmonia
and Sir Malcolm Sargent on EMI Matrix CDM5 65419-2, originally on HMV ALP1427),
but Tarasova gives a convincing, well projected account which can stand its
own ground amongst such company without, admittedly, seriously challenging
either of them. The force of her personality comes through particularly in
the agile cadenza of the second movement, but she also seems very much at
home in the elegiac Lento. Miaskovsky's scoring in the first movement
is always inventive and often magical, and the orchestral outpourings of
the second movement are well delivered by the Moscow orchestra. The recording,
without being in any way distinctive, is truthful and clear.
Recommended for the adventurous. This is delightful music which deserves
more frequent airing.