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Russian Cello Sonatas
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Chout; The Tale of the Buffoon suite, Op.21a (1921) arranged by Roman Sapozhnikov [8:32]
Boris TCHAIKOVSKY (1925-1996)
Cello Sonata in E minor [23:32] ¹
Sergei CHEBOTAREV (b.1949)
Cello Sonata in A minor (c 1982) [18:55]
Yuri SHAPORIN (1887-1966)
Five Pieces: Scherzo in A minor, Op.25 No.5 (1956) [1:47]
Alfred SCHNITTKE (1934-1998)
Cello Sonata No.1 (1978) [19:40]
Rodion SHCHEDRIN (b.1932)
Pieces, Op.20: Imitating Albéniz (1952) [4:35]
Marina Tarasova (cello)
Irina Kandinsky (piano)
Boris Tchaikovsky (piano) (Tchaikovsky)
rec. 2013, no locations
MUSICAL CONCEPTS MC 148 [77:04]

This selection of sonatas leads with works by Boris Tchaikovsky, Sergei Chebotarev and Schnittke and also includes other pieces for cello and piano. It pays tribute to Marina Tarasova whose fine recordings have graced the catalogues for many years.
 
For Boris Tchaikovsky’s sonata she has the significant cachet of the composer as her piano collaborator. His piano writing offers an involved, hectic running commentary over which the cello’s buzzy, repetitive lines provide a strong contrast. Urgent and restless though this is, there is a strong release in the slow panel, a melancholy and deeply expressive Largo which evolves into an Allegro finale in which things are coalesced into more than a mere veneer of overcoming. This is a work that breeds on contrast and conjunction and is realised with powerful control by both musicians. Chebotarev is a much younger composer than Tchaikovsky - he was born in the year that the latter graduated from the Moscow Conservatory - and he studied with Kabalevsky. The Sonata was first performed at the 1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition, at which event, incidentally, Tarasova was a competitor. It’s cast in the three standard movements and is an edgy, nasal sort of work that cultivates angry-sounding glissandi and urgent panegyric alongside some windswept harmonies and piano scurry. It’s hardly ingratiating, therefore, but preserves an excitingly nervy, tensile finale after a slow movement in which the cellist is unable to keep the music’s intensity wholly at bay.
 
The other Sonata is the best known, Schnittke’s 1978 First. This brooding and sometimes combative piece has been recorded a number of times but Tarasova is alive to its rhetoric and to its very particular stance. She plays with considerable commitment and as she shows elsewhere she’s not afraid to turn her tone acidic in the interests of maintaining drama and, indeed, meaning. Nor does she stint those oases of neo-Romanticism that Schnittke embeds in the sonata. Shchedrin’s saucy Imitating Albéniz derives from his 1952 Op.20 Suite and gives the cellist plenty of opportunities to explore Iberian stylistic flair. Shaprorin’s Scherzo is a kind of cellistic Flight of the Bumble Bee. Rostropovich liked the Op.25 set and I feel Tarasova does too - at least this particular one. Prokofiev’s suite from Chout is heard in the arrangement by Roman Sapozhnikov and receives another strongly characterised performance. Her tone is powerful and she gets the glissandi in the fourth panel just right.
 
Irina Kandinsky is Tarasova’s fine colleague and this recording offers a useful slice of repertoire, very competitively priced.
 
Jonathan Woolf