Boris Tchaikovsky: Lyrics of Pushkin; Partita for Cello and Chamber Ensemble; Cello Sonata

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COMPOSERS: Boris Tchaikovsky
LABELS: ADD Reissue,Melodiya
ALBUM TITLE: Boris Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Lyrics of Pushkin; Partita for Cello and Chamber Ensemble; Cello Sonata
PERFORMER: Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Alexander Dedyukhin (piano), Boris Tchaikovsky (harpsichord), etc
CATALOGUE NO: MEL CD 10 00944 (dist. Coda) ADD Reissue (1962-73)
It’s good to see the old name of Melodiya back in action, no doubt prompted here by the extraordinarily pro-active Boris Tchaikovsky Society and the consent, one hopes, of the Rostropoviches. Here, in recordings from the 1960s and early ’70s, they bring first-rate creative artistry to bear on second-rank works which are pleasingly crafted and characteristically eclectic. The 1957 Sonata’s neo-baroque style is fluently realised by both the composer as pianist and the cellist; Rostropovich’s superlative lower register in the Largo emphasises his well-deserved status as the noblest of all cellists in his prime.

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Vishnevskaya’s approach, of course, is more of an acquired taste: occasionally dodgy tuning and stridency seem like a small price to pay for her range of tone-colour and sheer commitment to the text. Here it’s the very best – Pushkin, starting with the same ‘Poet’s Echo’ that launched Britten’s Russian song cycle, and nicely selected to fluctuate between world-weariness and optimism. Tchaikovsky’s last song, a proclamation of personal versus political rights which fades from the public to the private, is truly worthy of his great soprano, who negotiates its simple arpeggio figures with trumpeting accuracy. The Partita has worn less well, a somewhat dated nod in the direction of avant-gardism. As the singing voice of the cello finally conquers the twitterings of harpsichord and electric guitar in the final movement, however, Rostropovich once again spellbinds with his direct eloquence. David Nice