Britten - Complete Music for Cello Solo and Cello & Piano
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Label: Brilliant Classics
Cat No: 94729
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 2nd December 2013
WorksCello Sonata in A major (1926)
Cello Sonata in C major, op.65
Cello Suite no.1, op.72
Cello Suite no.2, op.80
Cello Suite no.3, op.87
ArtistsAlexander Ivashkin (cello)
Andrew Zolinsky (piano)
"Your music is truly among the most outstanding work of the twentieth century. And for me it is a source of great and strong impressions. Write as much as you can." - Shostakovich to Britten, 1963
This set represents the first ever complete collection of Benjamin Britten's music for unaccompanied cello and cello with piano. Many of these works were composed for the legendary Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
Britten and Rostropovich were close friends and regularly gave recitals together in both Britain and Russia. It is perhaps because of this connection with Rostropovich that Britten's cello works in particular demonstrate his enduring affinity with Russian culture, leading such a renowned composer as Shostakovich to repeatedly express his admiration for Britten's music.
Britten's much-loved Suites for solo cello are an ideal vehicle for dramatic displays of virtuosity by the cellist, particularly in the First Suite, but also have beautifully expressive moments, such as the Second Suite's lyrical fourth movement. The Russian influence in the Suites is evident through Britten's use of Shostakovich's famous DSCH monogram and allusions, albeit enigmatic and subtle ones, to Russian folk melodies in the Third Suite.
This collection also includes the C major Cello Sonata which, like the Suites, takes much of its inspiration from historical forms, the world premiere recording of the previously unpublished A major Sonata - a charming work that was written when the composer was just 13 years old and is influenced by Schubert, and the intriguing Tema 'Sacher', written just a few months before Britten's death to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Swiss conductor Paul Sacher, and commissioned and premiered by Rostropovich.
Alexander Ivashkin has been described as a "prodigious cellist" by Rostropovich himself, and praised by the Daily Telegraph for combining "breadth of knowledge with a driving energy". He is accompanied in Britten's Cello Sonatas by virtuoso pianist Andrew Zolinsky.
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