Shostakovich/Stravinsky/Prokofiev

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich/Stravinsky/Prokofiev
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Cello Sonata No. 2 in D minor; Suite italienne; Cello Sonata in C
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello), Lars Vogt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45274 2
Mørk and Vogt’s latest disc brings together three major Russian chamber works for cello and piano from the Thirties and Forties. Shostakovich wrote his Second Cello Sonata in the same year (1934) that Stravinsky published the cello version of his Suite italienne – an offspring of his ballet Pulcinella. Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata followed in 1949.

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For all three composers, the cello seems to have suggested a casting-off of avant-garde ideas in favour of a more lyrical, Romantic vein. For a cellist like Mørk, whose greatest love is Schumann, this means music admirably suited to his graceful, almost understated style of playing. Even where the composers use a more percussive style – the rapid hammered notes of the Shostakovich’s scherzo or the thumping pizzicato in the Prokofiev’s first movement, for example – Mørk is never guilty of the ugly sounds that can stem from forced playing. His performance gives an impression of virile strength, reined in by good taste and the requirements of the music. Double stops sound radiant, pizzicatos ring out, and technique is rock solid – it’s especially impressive in the chromatic descending octaves in the Shostakovich scherzo. Balance and sound are excellent throughout, as is Vogt’s equal partnering. Janet Banks