BBC Music Magazine

The Russian Album

- David Nice

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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