Schchedrin: Menuhin-Sonata

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COMPOSERS: Schchedrin
LABELS: Ars musici
WORKS: Menuhin-Sonata; Echo-Sonata; Cello Sonata; In the Style of Albeniz
PERFORMER: Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin), David Grigorian (cello), Rodion Shchedrin, Ludmila Lissovaja (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 232371

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Rodion Shchedrin’s extensive chamber music catalogue stretches back almost 60 years, to a 1951 Suite for Clarinet and Piano. Like the rest of the composer’s output, this body of work is deeply rooted in his Russian world, yet it is music full of individuality.

The four works presented on this not-quite-new recording – taped as long ago as 2002, but apparently never released before – are distinct even from each other, yet all are characterised by taut musical arguments and dark, sardonic colours.

The most substantial here is the Cello Sonata, dating from 1996 and premiered by its dedicatee, Mstislav Rostropovich, together with Shchedrin himself. On this recording, cellist David Grigorian gives an impassioned performance in partnership with Ludmila Lissovaja.

But the composer gets to display his enduring pianistic prowess when he teams up with Dmitry Sitkovetsky for the Menuhin-Sonata, a challenging work written in Menuhin’s memory in 1999. It was Sitkovetsky who gave this premiere, and his grasp of the work is compelling.

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Sitkovetsky also digs deeply into the other two pieces: the solo Echo-Sonata originally celebrated Bach’s tercentenary in 1985, and the 1973 In the Style of Albeniz is another of Shchedrin’s gritty homages to Spanish music. John Allison