Prokofiev * Scriabin * Rachmaninov

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Prokofiev,Rachmaninov,Scriabin
LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Prokofiev * Scriabin * Rachmaninov
WORKS: Prokofiev: Cello Sonata; Cinderella – Adagio; Rachmaninov: Cello Sonata; Vocalise; Scriabin: Romance
PERFORMER: Johannes Moser (cello), Andrei Korobeinikov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: PTC 5186 594 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Johannes Moser and Andrei Korobeinikov bring both muscle and imagination to these two epic Russian sonatas. The danger with both is of surfeit: of volume, density, sheer length and repetitiousness of material. In the Prokofiev players must be prepared – as these are –  to throw themselves into the circus ring, as well as indulge in the marvellously profound resonance of its C major lyricism. In the Rachmaninov, again, subtlety of articulation and elasticity are essential in its broad narrative sweep.

In both performances there are moments of unexpected revelation: amid the manic gaiety of Prokofiev’s Allegro finale comes a strange, reflective episode. It conjures themes from Romeo and Juliet, but as if in a distorted mirror. It can seem like a longueur before the party re-starts, or be treated as a heart-on-sleeve romance. Here, the players submit themselves absolutely to its quietude. In the midst of a rollicking surge, something deeply introverted grows. They go on to build an overwhelming ending, carillons of bell-like figures given thunderous momentum by Korobeinikov.

Similarly, in Rachmaninov’s finale, which sometimes struggles to keep airborne, there’s an episode recalling themes. They choose again to relax into a dream-like tempo; colours bleed, edges blur, memories flood in. It’s exaggerrated, but achieves a memorable magic, and gives the return to the allegro a tremendous head-rush. The scherzo is brutally driven, the poetic largo realised to its utmost.

While the piano occasionally sounds congested, Korobeinikov, exuding personality, is a great match for Moser.

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Helen Wallace