S022572 Reviews

S022572 Russian Cello Music

InTune Magazine / November 1996 / by HT

Prokofiev, Shostakovich: Cello Sonatas;
Rachmaninoff: 6 Song Transcriptions

Dmitry Yablonskv, cello; Oxana Yablonskaya, piano [Sonora SO22572CD, DDD]

Getting the two most important Russian cello sonatas on one disc offers a great temptation in itself, supplemented by six richly dark Rachmaninoff song transcriptions. But one has the additional advantage of highly stylish performances by the team of cellist Dmitry Yablonsky and his mother, pianist Oxana Yablonskaya. They open with Prokofiev's Sonata, Op. 119 followed by Shostakovich's, Opus 40. Rather than Rachmaninoff's (frankly weak) Sonata, the Yablonskys add beautifully idiomatic performances of his Vocalise; Oh stay, my love; A Dream; When Silent Night doth hold me; How few the joys and So many hours.

Subtle touches of insight are everywhere apparent, along with exceptional uniformity of concept. The Yablonskys find more playfulness in the Prokofiev Sonata than normal, giving it a lightness that is charming, with both humor and nostalgia for the Shostakovich. (Yablonskaya's pianism during the brilliant Shostakovich is jaw-dropping.) Lyric and dramatic elements are beautifully served, but there's no fling at exaggerated melodramatics. The scherzo of the Shostakovich, for example, is presented as a giddy peasant dance rather than a Totentanz. Brave for that!

On the other hand, the turn to a more refined tenderness for the Rachmaninoff, thoroughly attuned to their neo-Tchaikovsky lushness. The transcriptions are all very fine, and indeed, sound more effective for the cello-piano combination than in their vocal originals. It's amazing just how idiomatically they fit the cello. They sound like cello music. Best of all, Yablonsky's musicality never gives way to merely exploiting the music for his own glory. If tastefulness and stylistic insight mean anything to you, these are the versions to have.

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