This disc surveys work for cello and piano created
over almost the entirety of this Russian composer's life. The
distinguished cellist Raphael Wallfisch – who performs beautifully
– is accompanied by the composer.
Shchedrin was a successor to Shostakovich, who
was clearly a strong influence, at the Moscow Conservatory.
His work is also deeply affected by a keen interest in Russian
folklore and folksong, as in the first work on this disc. He
also has the distinction of introducing classics of Russian
literature – including Nabokov, Gogol and Tolstoy - to the theatre
in the forms of both opera and ballet.
In some ways his style looks back rather than
forwards from his predecessor Shostakovich. Although post-Soviet
composers have broken new - and sometimes re-visited very old
- ground, this music seems to be more closely influenced by
the first half than the second half of the twentieth century.
The first - and most recent work – sets five
melodies from Rimsky-Korsakov's 100 Russian Folk Songs.
The influences not only of Rimsky-Korsakov but also of Prokofiev
and Stravinsky are apparent.
The second work, the Sonata, was written in 1996
and dedicated to Rostropovich, for whom Shchedrin had already
written a concerto. It is a challenging work in which the piano
and the cello are often in opposition rather than co-operation.
There are three movements – allegretto, moderato and
In the Style of Albeniz is an early work,
written when the composer was only 20 years of age. He went
on to extend his interest in music in the Spanish style by writing
a Suite and two Tangos. This short piece was originally one
of a set of ten pieces for solo piano - his own instrument -
but has also been transcribed not only for cello (as here) but
also for trumpet and piano.
The closing Quadrille was arranged for
piano and cello by Grigory Singer from an episode drawn from
Shchedrin's first opera Not Love Alone (1961). Like the
opening work, it draws heavily on both folk-like tunes and the
influence of Stravinsky. It has a humorous and satirical tone
which brings some welcome light relief.
The quality of performance alone makes this disc
worth buying. It is a great pleasure to listen to Wallfisch
and the disc is also well recorded with excellent sound quality.
The music is not well known and will be of particular interest
to those who enjoy recent Russian music.