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Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Cello Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12 (1911 rev. 1935) [18:58]
Cello Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 81 (1938) [21:17]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Ballade for cello and piano, Op.15 (1912) [13:55]
Sergei TANEYEV (1856-1915)
Canzona for cello and piano (1883) [6:43]
Pavel Gomziakov (cello)
Andrei Korobeinikov (piano)
rec. 2017, Large Auditorium, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
ONYX 4176 [61:02]

Many years ago I wrote a partial survey of Myaskovsky’s music on record and it’s always good to listen to new recordings of his music. The news of the imminent release of the first ever commercial release of his violin sonata is particularly cheering but before that happens here is a disc largely devoted to two of the most popular of his chamber works, the Cello Sonatas.

I’ve always gravitated to Marina Tarasova and Alexander Polezhaev in this repertoire, inevitably augmented by Rostropovich and Dedyukhin in the Second Sonata, though these are works that fortunately allow for a relatively wide variety of expressive and tempo-related responses. Pavel Gomziakov and Andrei Korobeinikov approach the sonatas without peccadillos or extraneous gestures. They treat the less popular D major sonata with a full appreciation of its changeability, and honour the volatility at the heart of the music without exaggeration. Korobeinikov’s chattering piano, full of rhythmic pungency, is a stand-out in the second movement and the duo’s inflexions ensure that the sonata remains on the taut side, and significantly faster than the Tarasova-Polezhaev team.

The cellist’s tone is well-balanced and mellifluous, qualities put to good use in the A minor sonata. Perhaps he could generate a more variegated palette of colour though it’s not a crucial demerit given the perceptive attention to tempo relations. The first two movements conform pretty well to the precedent set by the work’s first performer, Rostropovich, whose brilliantly articulated finale has never remotely been approached by any other cellist who has taken on the work. This is fine, sensitive playing though frankly I’d have preferred just a touch more in the way of personal identification and drama.

Taneyev’s lovely Canzona was originally written for clarinet but it became a favourite of Rostropovich and he also taped it. His world premiere recording in 1964 with his loyal pianist colleague Dedyukhin can be found, alongside the Myaskovsky Second Sonata, in a vast EMI box dedicated to his art. And Prokofiev’s Ballade with its declamatory piano start makes a logical disc-mate, given the friendship of Myaskovsky and Prokofiev and given, too, Rostropovich’s sovereign playing of works from the Russian tradition.

This is a good, recommendable disc, well annotated by Philip Borg-Wheeler, who also writes for this site, and well-engineered too.

Jonathan Woolf

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