Russian Ballads: Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Kissin | Naxos 8574377

Russian Ballads: Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Kissin

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Label: Naxos

Cat No: 8574377

Barcode: 0747313437771

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 25th November 2022



The 20th century saw an abundance of notable Russian cellists inspiring an extensive repertoire by Soviet composers. In the cello sonatas by Shostakovich and Prokofiev, both composers explore the rich and emotive timbre of the instrument with expressive subtleties and bittersweet emotions, alongside their typical touches of wit and irony. Internationally acclaimed pianist Evgeny Kissin has recently returned to composing, and his Cello Sonata is akin to a ballad in its restraint and introspection.

This well-filled programme of Russian cello sonatas has a great deal going for it, by no means the least of which will be the premiere recording of Evgeny Kissin’s Cello Sonata, op.2. The sonatas of Prokofiev and Shostakovich are both well-known and popular but by no means always paired together, and the addition of Prokofiev’s improvisational Ballade and the Adagio, op.97b, from the ballet Cinderella, tip the balance further in favour of this disc when it comes to the programme, let alone the quality of the performances.

Gabriel Schwabe has established himself among the leading cellists of his generation. He is a laureate of numerous national and international competitions, including the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann and the Concours Rostropovich in Paris. In 2009 he won the prestigious Pierre Fournier Award in London. As a soloist, he has worked with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Malmö and Norrköping Symphony Orchestras and the Royal Northern Sinfonia with conductors including Marek Janowski, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, Dennis Russell Davies, Cornelius Meister, Marc Soustrot, Lars Vogt and Michael Sanderling.

This new release joins an already substantial and highly acclaimed catalogue. Brahms’s Cello Sonatas and Songs (8573489) was admired for Schwabe’s ‘beautifully smooth and sweet tone’ by Fanfare, and his Elgar Cello Concerto (8574320) was considered ‘hugely impressive, full of finely realised detail, and lacking in bombast’ by The Guardian (5 stars).

Pianist and composer Roland Pöntinen has performed with major orchestras throughout the world and at prestigious international festivals in Europe and the US. Thanks to an insatiable musical appetite and a stupendous technique he has acquired a vast repertoire ranging from Bach to Ligeti. Pöntinen is one the most widely recorded contemporary pianists with well over 100 titles.

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