Myaskovsky • Rimsky-Korsakov
Myaskovsky: Cello Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; Rimsky-Korsakov: Serenade
Liliana Kehayova (cello), Kristina Miller (piano)
Dynamic CDS 7901 47:15 mins
Place the two works for cello and piano by Myaskovsky’s good friend Prokofiev side by side – also from circa 1911 and the end of the 1940s – and you’ll hear much greater contrasts, though both composers were compelled to produce pure lyricism in the wake of the Stalin-ordained show trials against ‘formalism in music’. Generous melody is the keynote of both sonatas here. The D major opening of the First Sonata puts a wide, arching cello melody in the spotlight and the ending of the work, returning to its roots, is equally lovely. What comes in between is more conventional, and more typical of Myaskovsky in the angsty moments; the second movement could do with a bit of pruning.
The later sonata is a bit like the Korngold Violin Concerto composed only a few years earlier, in that its first and second movements both stick to reflective lyric inspirations, though the one which launches the work is certainly memorable and you can almost hear the ‘voice’ of Rostropovich, its dedicatee and first performer. Liliana Kehayova has the right singing tone, and if the personality doesn’t exactly leap out at you, that’s partly due to the slightly recessed recorded sound and to the nature of the two sonatas. Likewise Kristina Miller deals well with some big-boned pianistic writing in the First Sonata, without impacting hugely. The Rimsky-Korsakov miniature serves as a jolly encore.