WORKS: Cello Sonata in C, Op. 119; Solo Cello Sonata, Op. 134; Ballade in C minor; Adagio from Cinderella; Andante, Op. 132; Fragments from Chout (arr. Sapozhnikov)
PERFORMER: Alexander Ivashkin (cello)Tatyana Lazareva (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10045
It was Prokofiev’s last completed piano sonata of which Sviatoslav Richter said, ‘the more you hear it, the more you come to love it and feel its magnetism’; but the same is also true of the near-contemporary C major Cello Sonata. Among the several live performances so far this anniversary year, the most outstanding I heard was Alexander Ivashkin’s knife-edge duo with Dmitri Alexeev in the 5 March London commemorative concert. The only problem here is that Ivashkin’s pianist, Tatyana Lazareva, proves nowhere near as authoritative or as fine-tuned as Alexeev or the ideal on disc, Emanuel Ax to Yo-Yo Ma’s wise reading on Sony. She drowns out her cellist in the first-movement development and the textures are often muddied. Yet thanks to Ivashkin’s warm and focused tone, the supple melodic lines, the heart and the energy all come across. It’s not inappropriate to speak of Schubertian pathos here; the older, frailer Prokofiev’s subtle play with major and minor is certainly comparable.
Ivashkin’s programme is characteristically imaginative. The Sonata and a stunningly well-shaped Adagio from Cinderella frame an early piece of devilry, the Ballade; again, it’s a pity that once past the opening song so much depends on the pianist, for Lazareva doesn’t do enough to keep the chromatic chord sequences incisive. The second relatively youthful interloper is Roman Sapozhnikov’s intriguing and enigmatic take on the Diaghilev ballet Chout, capped by a return to emotional base with Ivashkin’s achingly if implicitly sad realisation of the first movement from the unfinished Solo Cello Sonata. Here, at least, his pianist cannot undermine best intentions. David Nice