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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op.19 [34.51]
Danse orientale, Op.2/2 [4.29]
Lied (1890) [2.07]
Études-Tableaux, Op.39 [35.44]
Steven Doane (cello), Barry Snyder (piano)
rec. Eastman Theatre, Eastman School of Music, August 1996
BRIDGE 9347 [79.11]

There are remarkably few recordings of Rachmaninov’s complete works for cello and piano, but of necessity these have to include a number of arrangements of various piano pieces and the ubiquitous Vocalise to make up the duration of a CD. What we have here instead is a complete recording of the second set of Études-Tableaux, but this necessitates the omission of the first of the two pieces for cello and piano, Op.2, which were actually conceived by the composer for that combination. The recordings, we are told in a booklet note by the producer, languished unpublished for twelve years “for various reasons” - was it perhaps because of the rather unusual manner in which the disc had been programmed?
 
As it happens Barry Snyder gives a very good performance indeed of the piano cycle, which is all the more astonishing when the booklet informs us that the recording is from one complete take only, with just a couple of patches to cover studio noises. But again one is mystified by the reasoning behind giving us just one of the two sets of Études-Tableaux. Nearly all other recordings of the cycle give us both this group and the earlier Op.33 set, which make a logical pairing and is surely is the way that most listeners will want to approach the music.
 
If you want the complete works by Rachmaninov for cello and piano, there are a number of alternative choices in the catalogue, of which that by Lynn Harrell and Vladimir Ashkenazy on Decca is more or less self-recommending. Steven Doane and Barry Snyder are quite slow in the opening movement of the Cello Sonata (they are nearly two minutes longer than Harrell and Ashkenazy), but they hold the music together well and are convincingly romantic.
 
The excellent booklet notes by Malcolm MacDonald are extensive and informative. If you want this coupling, then you will be highly satisfied with the performances and recording; but I must admit the logic of the pieces included here escapes me.
 
Paul Corfield Godfrey 


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