Janacek/Shostakovich/Prokofiev

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Janacek/Shostakovich/Prokofiev
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Pohádka; Cello Sonata in D minor; Cello Sonata in C
PERFORMER: Steven Isserlis (cello); Olli Mustonen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68437 2 DDD
What makes this disc a must is the restoration Isserlis and Mustonen have undertaken on Janácek’s Pohádka. From a charming but relatively straightforward sequence of three movements published in 1923 (its first performance was in 1910), here is a five-movement work that restores the discarded final movement and adds a thrilling Presto. In his note, Isserlis points out that this Presto has long baffled scholars in terms of both date and purpose. The thematic relationship to the final (discarded) movement, however, is so obvious that it suggests the Presto was part of the original composition. In addition, Isserlis has restored the original first movement whose ending differs remarkably from the published version, in effect exchanging the material between cello and piano, to notably more interesting effect.

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It’s only a pity that the five-movement work is not played through in one go, the listener being required to programme the relevant tracks which are found at the beginning and end of the disc, surrounding performances of Shostakovich’s and Prokofiev’s only sonatas. Janácek seems to suit Isserlis and Mustonen as a duo better than the Russian works. Here, Mustonen favours a hard-edged sound, which contrasts at times oddly with Isserlis’s soft-grained, Romantic approach. Annette Morreau