Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Ballade, Opus 15 (1912)
Five Melodies, Opus 35b (1925)
Sonata for cello and piano, Opus 119 (1949)
Sonata for solo cello (completed Blok), Opus 133 (1953)
Waltz from The Stone Flower, Opus 118, (arr. Piatigorsky)
March from The Love for Three Oranges, Opus 33, (arr. Piatigorsky)
Adagio from Cinderella, Opus 97 (1944)
Raphael Wallfisch (cello), John York (piano)
Recorded 8 July 1998, St George's Brandon Hill, Bristol (Ballade, Sonatas); 30 July 1999, Potton Hall Suffolk, (Melodies, Waltz, March, Adagio)
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The year 2003 is the fiftieth anniversary of Prokofiev's death, and it will no doubt prove to be a year in which the composer's achievement is celebrated and put under closer critical scrutiny. This is a cause for genuine rejoicing, since great composers prove their greatness the more one encounters them. With Prokofiev, as with so many others, the reputation is secure but is founded on relatively little of a substantial creative output.

The collection of music featuring the cello that Raphael Wallfisch presents here is ample proof of all these things. The earliest music on offer is the Ballade, which the composer's diaries claim was based upon a theme deriving from his childhood: his eleventh year, in fact. He was in his early twenties when he made the final version for cello and piano, and it proves a most satisfying and warmly expressive piece, not least because Wallfisch brings out these virtues.

The Five Melodies are products of Prokofiev's years of exile, the 1920s. Originating as songs, he made a well known version of the music in an arrangement for violin and piano. This cello version is that of Raphael Wallfisch himself, and the richness of his tone suits the lyrical style of the music. The clean, atmospheric recorded sound is a bonus too. In his perceptive insert note, Wallfisch's pianist partner, John York describes this music as 'Prokofiev at his most sophisticated, poignant and colourful'.

During his final years Prokofiev renewed his interest in the solo cello, inspired (just like Shostakovich) by the playing of the young Mstislav Rostropovich. The Cello and Piano Sonata is among the finest compositions from his final years, when he struggled against the ravages of poor health but still managed to maintain the quality of his inspiration. The balancing of the two instruments is supremely successful, and this rates as the composer at the height of his powers. In common with other music from these years, there is a distinctively and deliberately Russian flavour in this piece.

The Sonata for solo cello is more problematic. Prokofiev began writing it but did not live to complete it beyond is series of sketches. The completed work was constructed with great skill by Vladimir Blok and introduced by Natalia Gutman some thirty years ago. Wallfisch's decision to include it in his Prokofiev collection is to be applauded, since it adds further to its interest and value. However, the music sounds less inspired than the equivalent Sonata for solo violin, which the composer did complete.

The remaining items are lollipops, taken from theatre scores. The richly expressive Adagio from the ballet Cinderella was Prokofiev's own arrangement, whereas the items from the ballet The Stone Flower and the opera The Love for Three Oranges were arranged by the eminent cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. All three of these short pieces are wonderfully entertaining and very well played, and together they set the seal on a particularly successful disc.

Terry Barfoot

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Five Melodies Op. 35bis:

Lento ma non troppo

Animato ma non allegro

Allegretto leggiero e scherzando

Andante non troppo

Sonata Op. 119:
Andante grave


Allegro ma non troppo

Sonata for Solo Cello Op. 133

Waltz (from 'The Tale of the Stone Flower' Op.118)

March (from 'The Love for Three Oranges' Op.33)

Adagio (from 'Ten Pieces from Cinderella' Op.97)

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