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Giuseppe VALENTINI (1681-1753)
Cello Sonata in E major [12:23]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cello Sonata No.2 in D major, BWV1028 (c.1720) [13:33]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Seven Variations for cello and piano in E flat major on a theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen WoO46 (1801) [9:24]
Julius KLENGEL (1859-1933)
Scherzo for cello and piano in D minor, Op.6 (1884-85) [5:06]
Nikolai MIASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Cello Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op.12 (1911 rev. 1929-31 and 1945) [18:51]
Alexander Rudin (cello)
Lidiya Evgrafova (piano)
Victor Ginzburg (piano)
rec. Moscow, 1978/83
MELODIYA MELCD1002273 [59:32]

Born in Moscow in 1960 Alexander Rudin is now a professor at the city’s conservatoire as well as being artistic director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra Musica Viva. He’s primarily a cellist, but has achieved distinction as a pianist – he studied at the Gnessins Institute with Yuri Ponizovkin – and increasingly so as a conductor. He took lessons from Dmitri Kitayenko in the late 1980s. Rather amazingly – at least to me – it appears from the brief booklet biography that Rudin conducted the first Russian performance of Idomeneo.

This disc offers a trawl through his cellistic back catalogue, the better to exhume some items that have been long buried and one in particular that always operated on the fringe of the discography. His two colleagues had fruitful partnerships with him. Lidiya Evgrafova, a Yudina pupil, had an ensemble with her son Lev Evgrafov – who taught Rudin at the Gnessins Institute. Rudin’s association with Victor Ginzburg began in 1979 and has survived for over thirty years. They have performed numerous recitals together and made a number of recordings.

The recordings with Evgrafova date from 1978 so Rudin was very young when he set them down – still in his teens. The remaining item is Miaskovsky’s Sonata No.1 with Ginsburg from 1983 when Rudin was still only 23. It’s very much a young man’s recital all round. The first four items form a useful piece of programme building though one with a slightly old fashioned look about it. The concentration is on baroque. Valentini’s sonata in E major alerts one to Rudin’s robust technique and to the disciplined approach that would have been hammered into him as a student. The recording quality, which is perfectly acceptable but not especially warm, rather suits his playing which is polished with a tonal tautness that refuses to exaggerate. He’s attentive to dynamics in the second movement Allegro, where Evgrafova plays conspicuously well, her bright trill bringing colour to bear. The upper and answering lower cellistic voices in the Gavotte are also nicely characterised, and the finale is pleasingly buoyant. His Bach D major Sonata is emotionally quite reserved but again technically proficient with a rhythmically effective finale; there’s an element of patrician phrasing. Strangely the results make Bach’s music sound older than it is. Articulate in the Beethoven, he also phrases well, though the performance lacks humour. The best part of the Klengel Scherzo recording was not the expected zippy virtuosic flourishes but actually the lyric section, winningly done.

This leaves Miaskovsky. I’ve written about this before in the context of a survey of the composer’s music on disc. It’s not a performance to which I particularly warm though others are much more positive about it. The transfer from LP is fine, and it should be noted that he recorded the second sonata as well. I wish he had re-recorded them both later on in his career.

As noted, the booklet is quite brief in its biography and there is nothing about the music. One for the cellist’s admirers.

Jonathan Woolf