Alex Chaushian has been around and about the London music scene for quite some time as a teacher, chamber musician and soloist. He was in Freddy Kempf's Trio, playing in some fine recordings they made for BIS. Alex and Yevgeny Subdin recently made another duo CD of Weinberg's Cello Sonatas, and are regular duo partners.
This terrific CD of the best known Russian Cello sonatas, by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich includes a surprise in the shape of Borodin's Cello Sonata. Intriguingly built from a fragment of Bach's Solo violin sonata number 1 (the fugue subject), its splendid piece, with moments of beguiling lyricism and plenty of propelling energy.
Chaushian is a subtle player, with impeccable intonation, a singing tone that's never strangled by intrusive vibrato. His slight emotional reticence in the Rachmaninov makes it a fresh experience, a classically minded account with a clear sense of direction and structure given to the music. Sudbin's partnership is thrilling yet never hogs the limelight.
The Borodin romps and sings and you'd hope, a hugely compelling performance of an unfamiliar work. The Shostakovich is a difficult work to pin down: the neoclassical elements, the lack of biting satire might some as a shock. But another performance of total conviction from Sudbin and Chaushian crowns this top-drawer recital of Russian classics.
As ever with BIS the recording is superbly balanced.
Even if you don't go for chamber music, you should try this. I ordered it and played it at midnight, knowing I would not be disturbed. From the first chords I was hooked. This is communication in its truest form. Cellist Alexander Chaushian, and pianist Yevgeny Sudbin have collaborated in such a convincing manner that they have managed to convey a wordless stream of ideas. I was totally blown away, and I assure you I was sober all through it. (Not that my mind acted in a sober manner.) This is what musical performance should be all about. There is not the slightest hint of artifice, such as "let's rall here," or "let's diminuendo here," etc. Neither do I ever feel that one player is making concessions for the other. Whatever they are doing, it rings true.
The sound is magnificent and I do not have a modern SACD player. Grab this cd. You won't regret it.
This is a very attractive coupling of three Russian sonatas that all share a strong lyrical line. The two players are excellently in tune with both the repertoire and with each other. The 2010 recorded sound, available on the hybrid surround and stereo disc is particularly realistic neither favouring one instrument nor the other. The balance therefore has to be achieved by the players and this they do to perfection.
The disc opens with Rachmaninov’s cello sonata, written at about the same time as the second piano concerto. It shares the richness and lyrical nature of that work. Some critics have commented that it sounds more like a piano concerto with cello obbligato but that certainly is not the case here. Yevgeny Sudbin shows all the sensitivity that he displays on his solo disc of the piano sonata 2 and other works, also on Bis. He is able to make the most of the piano display without overpowering the soloist. Alexander Chaushian has a full and rich sound which suits all the works here and especially helps with the balance of the Rachmaninov.
The Borodin work was convincingly and skilfully completed after his death but, in this performance, stands as a substantial and lyrical member of the cello repertoire. This is a fine and strong performance and should do much to promote the work’s position in the repertoire.
The third sonata on this disc clearly has an equal stature to that of Rachmaninov’s work and must therefore be considered as the other major work. Unlike some of Shostakovich’s earlier works, written up to the 5th symphony for example, this is essentially lyrically good humoured and should not cause discomfort for those wary of the composer’s more acerbic style found elsewhere. The second movement has the sort of driving rhythmical energy found in many of the composer’s scherzos but without undue aggression. The finale has the sort of good-humoured quirkiness that is also characteristic of his lighter style.
The disc concludes with an attractive version of the Rachmaninov Vocalise transcribed for cello and piano by Anatoly Brandukov in 1922. It makes for an attractive finale to an attractive disc.
In summary, this is a well-chosen program of cello works, outstandingly well played and recorded.
I love listening to the cello but there is a tendency for the record companies to issue the same cello music. This record however took me to some unfamiliar pieces. I loved it and I thought the playing by both performers was beautiful
I was fortunate to attend a piano recital by Yevgeny Sudbin and found his playing remarkable. Be reassured, if you are unfamiliar with these artists, that you are listening to musicians who will become legends. The pieces are darkly dramatic, as you would expect, and the programme is full and varied. Top class music; top class musicians.