Notes and Editorial Reviews
Cello Sonatas: No. 1 in D; No. 2 in G
Ji?í Bárta (vc); Hamish Milne (pn)
HYPERION 67660 (70:55)
Over the years, Hyperion has carved an estimable niche for itself as a purveyor of undeservedly obscure music. Its formula is simple. First, find the right performers who would enthusiastically play that neglected stuff as if it were the end of the world; second, record their efforts in faultless, state of the art sound. Here cellist Ji?í Bárta and Hamish Milne (one of
Hyperion’s mainstay pianists) once again do just that.
Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) is not to be confused with his younger brother, Nikolai, the dedicatee of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, who, upon hearing Tchaikovsky demonstrate it, roundly damned the piece. Anton, like his brother, was a formidable, high-energy-level pianist whom Clara Schumann thought somewhat over the top. He was also a composer who wrote music by the yard in virtually all genres, including opera. Brahms, though he admired Rubinstein’s piano-playing, lamented the fact that he composed with an often-alarming lack of self criticism.
By the evidence presented here, Anton Rubinstein was a larger than life figure with fantastic pianistic chops and a musical imagination of extraordinary fecundity. To put him in perspective, I can do no better than to quote Richard Strauss’s self-deprecating characterization of himself as “a first class second class composer.” That assessment surely fits Anton Rubinstein, but given performances of this caliber, the illusion that he is more than that is almost palpable.
All the above notwithstanding, I will return to this recording in the future whenever I want to hear performances of rare precision, fluency, and Romantic warmth.
FANFARE: William Zagorski
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title