Notes and Editorial Reviews
Mstislav Rostropovich (vc); Kurt Sanderling, cond; Sviatoslav Richter (pn); Leningrad PO
MONOPOLE 22, mono (61:57)
The mono sound is quite thin, if clear (with no noise), but Slava’s character survives another remastering of these Soviet tapes from the mid 1950s. Richter had conducted the premiere of the
in 1952, showing solidarity with his friends at a time when
Prokofiev was still “untouchable,” thanks to the nonsense of the 1948 state clampdown. He’s the best possible partner for Rostropovich in this modest, moving Cello Sonata, unbeatable in the bleak ruminations of the Andante. It’s also good to have a further sample of Kurt Sanderling’s sterling work in Leningrad. This was the first recording of the
, made in 1954, just a year after Stalin and Prokofiev died, and its existence implies a change in the times. It’s a straight, dark reading, strongest in the huge central movement and in the heartbreaking, withdrawn moments near the end. Overall, in my view, no one on recordings matches the 1965 Karel An?erl/André Navarra recording on Supraphon, though I saw Rostropovich live, in London, raise the work to a transcendent level of expression and substance.
What bugs me is the patronizing tone of too much published writing on the Prokofiev cello works, especially the
. It’s an astounding portrait of the times and of the strung-out individual who wrote it, all the way to the panic-hysteria of the coda: a full-on late masterpiece by one of the two or three greatest composers of the last century. There are moments of eloquence and beauty he matched nowhere else, in a unique formal frame. Enough said. Prokofiev collectors need these youthful Rostropovich performances; everyone needs the
FANFARE: Paul Ingram
Works on This Recording
Symphony-Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 125 by Sergei Prokofiev
Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1951/1952; USSR
Notes: Composition written: USSR (1951).
Composition revised: USSR (1952).
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