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Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Cello Sonata Op. 40(1934) [27:54]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1874-1942)
Cello Sonata, Op. 19b (1900) [33:43]; Vocalise, Op. 34/14b (1915, arr. cello and piano) [4:12]
Boris Andrianov (cello); Rem Urasin (piano).
rec. live, Moscow, May 2006 (Shostakovich); live, Small Hall, St Petersburg Conservatory, 6 October 2004 (Rachmaninov)
QUARTZ QTZ2053 [65:53]

Boris Andrianov won the Bronze Medal at the Moscow Competition in 1998, which is in itself high recommendation. His pianist was a named winner in the 1995 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Given that the performers are playing music from their homeland, this promised to be a special disc.
The first thing to strike one about this account of the Shostakovich is the low recording level, so be warned that some volume adjustment may be required. The next thing is that this is music-making of youth, with all the positive qualities of youth on its side. Outbursts are passionate, lyrical sections lovingly dwelt on. Andrianov's tone is warm and expressive, while Rem Urasin acts as a solid bedrock for him. The recording is on the reverberant side, but detail still registers. The players bring a fair sense of mystery to the close of the first movement, and plenty of vim to the fast second: an Allegro. Again, though, the reverberation is a concern. It is to the credit of the players that the intensity of this movement is not blunted.
The slow movement has a deep heart to it and requires dedicated performers to do it justice. The players here seem to warm their way into it, with only the final few minutes achieving that sense of stasis so necessary. Better is the finale, with a real sense of play mixed with fire. My top recommendation, on Hyperion CDA67534 with Alban Gerhardt and Steven Osborne remains unchallenged.
The Rachmaninov begins very promisingly with a Lento that projects both breadth and intensity of feeling. Urasin brings a real depth of tone to the accompaniment that infiltrates into the sonata-form Allegro moderato. Andrianov finds many beauties in the long-breathed melodies, while Urasin seems to enjoy the more disjointed, exploratory passages. The darkness of the Scherzo - placed second, as in the Shostakovich - is most effectively brought out here with the expansive contrastive melody appearing here as pure Rachmaninov.
Much of the Andante breathes true repose before the finale's long journey begins. Both players seem to revel in the sense of musical space Rachmaninov creates here. Urasin finds the occasional opportunity to add spikiness of attack within the prevailing dark lyricism. Perhaps the live provenance inspired the players to greater heights here? This is a performance that equals the claims of the recent Natalie Clein account on EMI. When it comes to the famous Vocalise, Andrianov comes head-to-head against the great and sorely missed Rostropovich and has to cede to Slava's greatness. This is not to imply his account is in any way lacking. It is clearly played with much affection and expression;  just without greatness.
Andrianov and Urasin are two mightily talented youngsters and one can only credit their bravery in releasing this particular repertory. Keep watching!
Colin Clarke


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