Enescu • Prokofiev • Shostakovich

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Enescu • Prokofiev • Shostakovich
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Enescu • Prokofiev • Shostakovich
WORKS: Cello Sonata in F minor – Allegro; Cello Sonata in C, Op. 119; Cello Sonata in D minor, Op. 40
PERFORMER: Laura Buruiana (cello), Alexandra Silocea (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2302

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Though the Prokofiev and Shostakovich Sonatas are often coupled, the Enescu is a rarity. Even more so, since this is not the full-length F minor Sonata, Op. 26, but its original first movement, recorded just once before, to my knowledge, by Valentin Radutiu and Per Rundberg on Hänssler. That account is easily superseded by Laura Buruiana and Alexander Silocea’s: their opening spiky unison passage for cello and piano is unanimous in ensemble, and the music unfolds seamlessly through its beautiful second theme – Buruiana’s phrasing just a touch sultry – and the charming Bach-style fugue which follows.

Equally convincing is the Shostakovich Sonata, which mimics several salon composers as if in a state of slightly ill-tempered hangover. Buruiana and Silocea seize its virtuosic opportunities, Buruiana tossing off the scherzo second movement’s glistening harmonics with virtuosic brio. They are equally good in more sinister passages, such as the stalking theme launched by the piano towards the end of the first movement.

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Their performance of the Prokofiev, though attractive, short-changes the work’s gentle humour – most particularly their over-brisk tempo for the central movement – and its moments of enchantment (so compellingly demonstrated by Raphael Wallfisch and Peter Donohoe on Somm, reviewed July 2015); for instance, the distant bells-effect towards the end of the first movement is here so underplayed that it hardly registers. That Silocea manages in the finale to misread a much-repeated chord on its first appearance, but correctly when it reappears in another key, makes one wonder just how carefully Prokofiev’s Sonata was prepared for this recording. Daniel Jaffé