Title - 'The Russian Album'
Artist - Christoph Croisé & Alexander Panfilov
In the spring of 2019, Christoph Croisé scored a break-through with his critically acclaimed recording of Haydn’s Cello Concertos (AV 2402).
With The Russian Album, he turns his attention to two towering 20th-century masterpieces, Sergei Rachmaninov’s early, eloquent and emotional Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 19, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s D minor Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40.
The latter work’s finale featured what would become the composer’s signature style of caricature and irony that proved too provocative to the Stalinist regime.
Croisé also offers two “encores” – his own transcriptions of the March from Sergei Prokofiev’s propulsive opera The Love for Three Oranges, and Rodion Shchedrin’s flambouyant In the Style of Albéniz – and a bonus track by his compatriot, the Swiss cellist and composer Thomas Demenga, New York Honk, a humorous homage to the Big Apple’s cacophonous traffic noises.
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19
1. I. Lento – Allegro moderato (14.16)
2. II. Allegro scherzando (6.32)
3. III. Andante (6.20)
4. IV. Allegro mosso (10.59)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor, Op. 40
5. I. Allegro non troppo (12.06)
6. II. Allegro (3.13)
7. III. Largo (7.39)
8. IV. Allegro (4.16)
Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932), transcr. Christoph Croisé
9. In the Style of Albéniz (4.12)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891 – 1953) transcr. Christoph Croisé
10. March (from The Love for Three Oranges) (1.37)
Thomas Demenga (b. 1954)
11. New York Honk (2.07)
Total Time: 73.33
Recorded on October 23rd to 25th, 2017 at Radiostudio Zürich, Switzerland, this magnificent, soaring work from Christoph Croisé on cello and Alexander Panfilov on piano is now one of my most favorite classical works to have come out this year.
Opening with Rachmaninov's stern, stoically controlled Lento – Allegro moderato, the Allegro scherzando is more playful and allows for more expression from both men.
When we reach Andante the tone is once more of a down beat, somber mood, but come the invigorating, sweeping beauty of Allegro mosso and all is right with the world; so to speak.
Shostakovich's powerfully performed - by both artists - Allegro non troppo begins this journey, with the boisterous piano work of Panfilov coming to the fore magnificently on Allegro.
Then we get the creeping ambiance of Largo, before rounding out with the orchestral, free spirited bounce of Allegro.
The two big pieces are, again, magnificent and showcase the talents of both Christoph Croisé and Alexander Panfilov to their upmost perfections.
However, the smaller works are just as delightful, inclusive of a stirring In the Style of Albéniz, a robust March (from The Love for Three Oranges), and the bonus track, the two minute 'New York Honk' - a lovely, playfully vibrant, if not at times purposely frenetic tribute to Swizz cellist Thomas Demenga.
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