The three sonatas are here given warm and inspired performances by the Armenian-born cellist Alexander Chaushian with Yevgeny Sudbin, his chamber music partner of long standing, at the piano.
The two have previously recorded sonatas by Mieczyslaw Weinberg for BIS (BISCD1648); a disc which was hailed as ‘the best possible case for a reappraisal of this undervalued composer’ by BBC Music Magazine, while the reviewer for International Record Review believed it ‘difficult to imagine finer performances than these’.
Composed between 1860 and 1934, the works on this disc hail from a momentous period in Russian music – from the emergence of a national Russian school of composing advocated by the group called ‘The Mighty Five’, to Stalin’s denunciation of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which was to cause generations of Russian composers to harness their modernist leanings.
“The meaty piano parts in the Rachmaninov and Borodin benefit hugely from [Sudbin's] near-orchestral range and depth, and his sculptor's sense of form and phrase. Not that he outshines cellist Alexander Chaushian, who displays a deeply instinctive connection with this repertoire...This is a near-ideal performance of Rachmaninov's magnificent work that stands alongside those by the greatest.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2012 ****/*****
“Chausian and Sudbin provide a majestic overview of chamber-style sensitivity. Every phrase is beautifully sculpted, Sudbin subtly tames Rachmaninov's swirling solo line, and Chaushian plays with a bewitching restraint and technical clarity that works wonders, especially in the rarely-heard Borodin Sonata.” Classic FM Magazine, June 2011 ****
“Chaushian and Sudbin shows that it is actually possible to deliver Rachmaninov's Sonata full-throatedly without making it sound like a piano concerto with cello accompaniment. And they demonstrate equally that Shostakovich's Sonata does not need hysterical exaggeration of its subtexts in order to be richly communicative.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2011
“There is no lack of personality and temperament, and the bigness of [Chaushian's] sound contributes to the music's symphonic aspirations...no one plays these sonatas quite like Russian performers do. Chaushian is no exception, bringing interpretative insight and native soulfulness into play with his technical mastery...His basic sound is appealingly buzzy - that is to say, human.” International Record Review, May 2011
“The rarity here is Borodin’s Cello Sonata, an early work of charm and vigour, reconstructed in the 20th century and calling for just the sort of adept, imaginative handling it gets here...The playing is of a supreme order and profoundly expressive.” The Telegraph, 18th March 2011 *****