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SERGEI PROKOFIEV
Sonata for cello and piano op. 119 in C major
DMITRY SHOSTAKOVICH
Sonata for cello and piano op. 40 in d minor
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF
Vocalise
"Oh stay, my love, forsake me not!"
A Dream
"When silent night doth hold me"
"How few the joys"
"So many hours, so many fancies"


Dmitry Yablonsky, cello
Oxana Yablonskaya, piano


Catalog #S022572CD [DDD]

Program Notes

Sergei Prokofiev liked to work on several projects at the same time and was working on two orchestral suites and "The Stone Flower" ballet at the same time as he was writing the Sonata for cello and piano op. 119. The sonata was given its world premiere by Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter. Prokofiev was severely censored by the authorities in those years. All of his new works had to be officially approved before the general public was allowed to hear them. Rostropovich and Richter had to play the sonata twice - for the members of the Composers' Union and for the State Arts Committee - before they were allowed an official world premiere on March 1, 1950. A quote from Prokofiev's close friend Nikolai Miaskovsky's diary says it all: "Yesterday Rostropovich and Richter openly played the Cello Sonata by Prokofiev in concert - a miraculous piece of music!"

Most of Dmitry Shostakovich's life was a story of pain and suffering under Joseph Stalin. For one period in the 1930s he slept outside his apartment with an overnight bag packed, so that when the secret police came to call for him in the early hours, the rest of his family would not be disturbed. Such terror was part of everyday life but out of this terror came some of the twentieth century greatest music. Sonata for cello and piano op. 40 was completed in 1934. It is written in four movements with the third being the slow movement. Shostakovich's mastery of the Sonata form transcends all issues of an extra-musical nature and his striking individuality is remarkable. The music makes it clear that even as early as 1934 Shostakovich forged a unique musical language capable of subtle innuendo yet drawing upon images of brutal irony, anger, bitter introspection and mock optimism.

Romances and songs for voice with piano accompaniment occupy an important place among Sergei Rachmaninoff's early works. By composing these works Rachmaninoff continued the 19th century Russian tradition of writing romances by using subjects and characters similar to the ones used by such masters of Russian romance as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. At the same time these works are highly individual in their approach to interpretation of lyrics and the balance between the voice and piano parts. The piano does not merely accompany the voice in these songs but often carries the difficult task of setting an overall mood and creating an emotional background for the piece. As a result the piano part in these pieces is often highly and uniquely demanding. The five romances presented on this album were written between 1891 and 1893. They were transcribed for cello and piano by Dmitry Yablonsky. The Vocalise was transcribed for cello and piano by Leonard Rose.


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