Celebrating Slava!

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COMPOSERS: Britten,Debussy,Dutilleux,Kancheli,Lutoslawski,Piazzolla,Prokofiev,Rostropovich,Schnittke,Shaporin etc,Works by Walton
LABELS: Profil
WORKS: Assorted works
PERFORMER: Lynn Harrell, Mischa Maisky, Natalia Gutman, David Geringas, Miklós Perényi, Sebastian Hess, Julius Berger, László Fenyö (cello); with Gidon Kremer (violin), Pavel Gililov, Jascha Nemtsov (piano); Cellissimo


These recordings were all captured live at the Kronberg Cello Festival in 2007, the year of Mstislav Rostropovich’s death, and the pieces were either written for him, premiered by him, or, in the case of Shchedrin’s One for the Road (‘Na pososhok’), composed in his memory. The line-up includes some very distinguished names, and even the less familiar throw themselves into the celebration with commitment and fervour. Sebastian Hess sets the pace with a searing performance of Walton’s Passacaglia, and the whole of the first disc is devoted to works for solo cello. Outstanding amongst these is László Fenyö’s reading of Dutilleux’s Trois strophes, and Miklós Perényi’s passionate version of Britten’s Second Suite. The second CD contains mostly works for cello and piano, and most of them are short. Here we meet Rostropovich the composer – the fiendish moto perpetuo of his Humoresque is dispatched to enthusiastic applause by Gabriel Schwabe. Audience noise rarely intrudes, and the various sounds of the different cellists are well caught by the Hessischer Rundfunk engineers: as well as being a tribute to Rostropovich, this is a useful compendium of cello styles. And compositional styles: the first piece written for Rostropovich was Myaskovsky’s Second Cello Sonata in 1948, played here by Natalia Gutman and Viacheslav Poprugin. Its Russian Romanticism is a complete contrast to the poly-stylism of Schnittke, whose arrangement of the Epilogue from his ballet Peer Gynt involves not only cellist David Geringas and a piano, but also a pre-recorded chorus. The only purely orchestral work comes on the fourth CD – Slava! Slava! – a rather dutiful celebration for Rostropovich’s 70th birthday by Shchedrin, who’s much better represented by One for the road, where a cello sextet is joined by a mournful recorder playing a folk-like theme. It’s one of two world premieres – the other is Kancheli’s Silent Prayer, a double concerto for Rostropovich on his 80th birthday, and Gidon Kremer on his 60th. Overall, this set is much more than the sum of its parts.