Alexander Chaushian and Yevgeny Sudbin don't let their hair down in the Rachmaninov cello sonata as do Wendy Warner and Irina Nuzova, who display noticeably more passion on their Cedille recording, but their taut, clear-headed approach will appeal to those who prefer a hint of emotional sobriety in this music.
In this vein the Borodin sonata is less melodically exotic than you might expect, hewing closer to the classicism of his String Quartet No. 1. Even so, the Pastorale contains a theme very similar to one found in the second movement of String Quartet No. 2 ("Baubles, Bangles, and Beads"). Chaushian and Sudbin's poised and colorful rendition makes a strong case for thisRead more piece.
However, the musicians are at their best in the Shostakovich. Of course, this is a more acerbic work than the two preceding, but the angular first-movement opening in no way prepares you for the wonderfully lyrical, Fauré-like tune that follows (as if the composer had morphed into "Shostakofiev"). Chaushian and Sudbin avoid the temptation to embellish the music's dark elements with thick, black underlining, and instead adhere to a strict musical discipline that allows the work's varying moods to emerge spontaneously. Nonetheless, there's sufficient bite in the scherzo, gloom in the largo, and frenzy in the finale to fulfill the composer's intentions. After this, Rachmaninov's ever-popular Vocalise makes for a soothing, transporting conclusion to the program. The well-balanced, naturally spacious recording (CD and stereo SACD) is icing on the cake. An excellent disc. Strongly recommended.
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