The label ASV Gold have released a fine recording
of important twentieth century cello works from the pens of three
Russian composers. These works span a period of seventy years.
It feels apt that the soloists: pianist Nikolai Demidenko and
cellist Leonid Gorokhov were both born in the then Soviet Union.
Incidentally both Demidenko and Gorokhov are now British citizens.
The thawing of political
constraints in the Soviet Union allowed
Schnittke to become the doyen of Russian
composers of the post-Shostakovich generation.
Consequently his eclectic musical language,
which combines a number of styles, contemporary
and traditional, has since the 1980s
become extremely popular in the West.
the Suite in the Old Style in
1972 and drew a great deal of the material
from several of his film scores. This
five movement suite was originally written
for either chamber orchestra or violin
and piano and is presented here in Daniil
Shafranís arrangement for cello and
piano. Schnittke adopts a tender pastiche
of an earlier age in which soloists
Gorokhov and Demidenko fully enter into
the sweetly melodic spirit of the score
displaying excellent musicianship throughout.
Composed in 1934, following
swiftly on the heels of the Piano
Concerto No.1 op.35, Shostakovich
wrote the Sonata for cello and piano
op.40 for cellist Viktor Kubatsky
who was his co-recitalist at that time.
A far cry from the composerís experimental
and dissonant works that caused him
severe censure from the Stalinist regime,
the four movement Sonata for cello
and piano successfully exploits
the cello's manifold qualities.
This early chamber
work is one of the composerís most lyrical
scores, rich in melodic interest yet
typically explores a dark emotional
side. I particularly enjoyed the duoís
performance. This is strong on irrepressible
good spirits and playfulness in the
tongue-in-cheek Rondo which closes
the work. These are lovely and most
natural performances of the Sonata
for cello and piano from Gorokhov
and Demidenko and they stand comparison
with the best. Although this is a fine
interpretation I would not wish to be
without the excellent 1946 version from
Daniil Shafran on cello and the composer
on piano. This is coupled with the Rachmaninov
Cello Sonata, on the Russian
Revelation label RV10017.
four movement Cello Sonata of
1901 dates from the period immediately
following the rapturously received Second
Piano Concerto. In 1897 Rachmaninov
had suffered a nervous breakdown and
had successfully consulted Dr. Nikolai
Dahl who was an amateur cellist. It
is thought likely that the composerís
interest in the cello was heightened
as result of his association with Doctor
Dahl. The Cello Sonata was written
by way of showing his gratitude.
Sonata is imbued with optimism and
its final pages have been described
as "triumphantly life affirming."
This brooding and passionate music is
perfectly communicated through the lyrical
and sonorous sounds of the cello complemented
by the expressive piano part. Cellist
Gorokhov gives a highly alert and confident
interpretation of great character. As
fine as this performance is I marginally
prefer, for its immediacy and increased
authority, the 1956 version from Daniil
Shafran and Yakov Flyer on the Revelation
Obtain this marvellous
ASV Gold recording and you will surely
find yourself eagerly anticipating the
next release from Gorokhov and Demidenko.
see also review
by Ian Lace