BBC Music Magazine

The Rus­sian Al­bum

- David Nice Entertainment · Arts · Music · Sergei Rachmaninoff · New York City · Dmitri Shostakovich · Sergei Prokofiev

Rach­mani­nov: Cello Sonata; Shostakovi­ch: Cello Sonata; Prokofiev: The Love for Three Or­anges – March; Shchedrin:

Im Stile von Al­b­eniz; Thomas De­menga: New York Honk Christoph Croisé (cello), Alexan­der Pan­filov (pi­ano)

Avie AV 2410 73:33 mins

In this recital Shostakovi­ch’s Cello Sonata, com­posed in 1934, marks the tran­si­tion from the out­right Ro­man­ti­cism of Rach­mani­nov’s to the satire of the three shorter pieces. It’s a per­for­mance equally well poised, too. In Alexan­der Pan­filov, cel­list Christoph Croisé has a pian­ist who can match him for soul­ful, scrupu­lous in­tro­spec­tion but who also guides the big out­bursts and then turn to a darker cast of thought. They’re in per­fect bal­ance – lis­ten to the deft­ness with which roles are re­versed in the trio of Shostakovi­ch’s short, sharp scherzo – and cap­ture ev­ery facet of this re­mark­able work, which seems so sim­ple to be­gin with yet evades pi­geon­hol­ing.

The Rach­mani­nov is more of a cu­rate’s egg, with both artists al­low­ing plenty of space but not ex­trav­a­gance or bullish­ness in the outer move­ments, yet not quite cap­tur­ing the ideal ru­bato or cen­tred­ness in the ro­man­tic melodies of the Al­le­gro scherzando and An­dante; and here, per­haps, one wants more of a golden tone than Croisé has to of­fer.

The high jinks of­fered here are de­li­cious. First there’s Shchedrin’s

In the Style of Al­béniz (sort of) be­gin­ning with a Rus­sian-school tu­mult from Pan­filov and weird har­mon­ics/over­tones from Croisé in his tran­scrip­tion; then there’s Prokofiev’s Three Or­anges march, turn­ing in some sur­prise last­minute glis­san­dos; and Thomas De­menga’s New York Honk – it has to be called a ‘bonus track’ since a Swiss out­sider doesn’t quite fit the ‘Rus­sian Al­bum’ con­cept – bowl­ing the Big Ap­ple streets and tak­ing in var­i­ous car/taxi horns. Sound is full and vivid, though the pian­ist briefly over­pow­ers the cel­list in Rach­mani­nov’s sec­ond move­ment.

PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★

RECORD­ING ★★★★

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