Miaskovsky: Cello Concerto; Cello Sonata No. 1; cello Sonata No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Miaskovsky
LABELS: Cello Classics
WORKS: Cello Concerto; Cello Sonata No. 1; cello Sonata No. 2
PERFORMER: Alexander Rudin (cello), Victor Ginsburg (piano); Musica Viva Orchestra/Andrei Golovin
With its wide range, capacity for soaring song, dreamy meditation and inconsolable elegy, the cello was peculiarly suited to Miaskovsky’s lyric-melancholic genius. And genius is not too strong a word to use of the concerto and two sonatas he wrote for it, especially in performances so heartfelt and filled with understanding. Alexander Rudin is a most impressive advocate for the enduring qualities of these three deeply moving works. The same useful coupling is on an Olympia CD with the cellist Marina Tarasova, but her playing lacks Rudin’s extra edge of expressive commitment and the recording is shallower. Rudin offers the most refined and eloquent reading of the Concerto since Rostropovich’s early classic from 1956 (EMI), with more control than Mischa Maisky’s rather self-indulgent take on the piece (DG) but much greater warmth than Truls Mørk shows in his somewhat noncommittal account for Virgin. There are good rival versions of both sonatas, but none quite equal to these. (Yuli Turovsky’s magisterial account of the Second on Chandos comes closest.) The suppleness of Rudin’s phrasing, his richness of tone, the variety of rhythmic pointing that he achieves in the faster sections (such as No. 2’s headlong finale) all contribute to interpretations that both satisfy in themselves and raise the stature of these fine works in one’s estimation. The recording of the sonatas favours pianist Victor Ginsburg, whose intelligent handling of the accompaniments is more prominent than with most competitors, but not in any way to the detriment of the performances. If Rostropovich remains the benchmark in the Concerto, it is now only by the shortest of heads, and Rudin sets a new benchmark in the Sonatas. Calum MacDonald