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Customer Review

on 7 March 2010
I have little but praise for this disc!

The Chopin Cello Sonata should actually come out like this, played by true virtuosi- like these two ones here, one of the greatest ones of the latter part of the last century, MSISTLAV ROSTROPOVICH and MARTHA ARGERICH. After all,it was the same way the work was conceived in the first place; Chopin of course was an amazing artist with his piano and August Franchomme, whom the sonata is dedicated, a great cello virtuoso. With him the composer gave the first performance in Paris a year before he died, in 1848 (inconceivably omitting the first movement).

August Franchomme was himself a composer and a long-time friend of Chopins, their friendsip going all the way back to early 1830s upon his arrival to Paris. He also assisted Chopin negotiating his publishers after his "kind-of-a friend-but-actually-more-of-a secretary" Julian Fontana had left Europe for United States-possibly due to his exhaustion caused by Chopins increasing requests and errands (once even asking him to send CAKE from Paris- to Nohant!!).
Chopin and Franchomme collaborated in 1831-32 composing a joint composition, a kind of a free fantasia-potpourri on the themes of a Grand Opera by Giocamo Mayerbeer called "Robert le Diable". The work was published under the heading "Grand duo concertante". For Chopin it must have been an experience which gave him an intimate understanding of the possibilities of the cello, little similar to-for instance- the collaboration of the violinist Paul Kochanski and Karol Szymanowski some 80 years later (Kochanski for examble composed the cadenzas of both of the violin concertos by Szymanowski).

Prior to his collaboration with Franchomme in the Grand duo, Chopin had already composed for the cello; in fact one of his early associates with whom he used to make music was prince Antoine Radziwill, an amateur cellist- and a composer himself. Chopin dedicated a Trio from 1828 to the prince and they played it together. Later he wrote a polonaise for Prince Antoine and his piano-playing daughter (this polonaise, when published with an introduction added later, was nevertheless dedicated to Joseph Merk,a renowned Viennese cellist). This disc inholds also this polonaise. The inside introductory text btw incorrectly states the cello as an instrument Chopin was "unfamiliar with". He wasn't, since he HIMSELF had played it a little,(like the violin-see from Halina Goldberg: "Music in Chopins Warsaw" Oxford University Press 2008) and moreover had already composed the Trio for violin, cello and piano as well as few times for orchestra.

So Chopin used to have cellists around! Later he suggested at least to one of his pupils to study the cello in addition of the piano studies (another he insisted on taking singing lessons saying; "you have to sing before you can play"). And the fruit and the celebration of a life-long interest of the cello-as well as a celebration of a long friendship with one of the greatest virtuosos of that instrument- resulted to a work which became one of the Great Romantic Cello Sonatas; the SONATA FOR CELLO AND PIANO IN G-MINOR, OP. 65 - the last opus to be published during Chopins life-time.

The sound-engineering is suberb, actually the best I've heard in connection of this work. The cello is never in danger of being drowned by the piano, and the difference of the intruments compliment each other; the sonorous tenor register of the cello with long lined melodies combined with the bright finesse filigree figuration of the piano make a fine combination.

The performance of Rostropovich and Argerich has an air of live-performance in it. I is thoroughly lively and impassioned. Their intrepetation highlights life and passion in this work, contary to the usual autumn-like approach. Though some may miss the nostalgic feel of few other performances- such as the emotional and poignant Du Pre/Barenboim rendition- there is so much to admire here, the sheer instrumental supremasy of these two virtuosi for a start!
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