The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Russian music for cello and piano. Miaskovsky: Cello Sonata no 2 in A minor op.81. Scriabin: Etude op.8 no.11 (arr Piatigorsky). Prokofiev: Adagio op.97b. Schnittke: Musica nostalgica. Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonata op.19
Wendy Warner and Irina Nuzova confirm themselves as high-ranking artists with this excellently recorded and produced CD of Russian music. Their attractive programme is particularly notable for featuring the lesser-known Miaskovsky Second Sonata composed for the young Mstislav Rostropovich in the late 1940s. This Romantically orientated work is given a compelling performance, in which the musically discursive moments are guided with such a sure sense of direction that one is convinced from beginning to end. The duo is especially impressive in the finale, a relentless moto perpetuo in which Warner displays her consummate technical mastery of spiccato bowing.
As a contrast to the helter-skelter conclusion to the Miaskovsky, Warner unveils Piatigorsky’s captivating transcription of a Scriabin etude by moulding the lyrical melodic line with great affection. Likewise the Adagio from Prokofiev’s Cinderella is projected with passion and ardour. Schnittke’s Musica nostalgica, which draws its material from one of the movements of his Suite in the Old Style, projects a more reserved whimsical approach, though one that doesn’t overlook the touches of humour in the music.
Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata, which concludes the programme, is a tremendous emotional rollercoaster. Both artists steer an adroit course to manage its dramatic impact with care, with the Andante particularly eloquent and poignant. Such full-blooded and committed playing can’t fail to entrance.
From the December 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.