Rachmaninoff & Prokofiev: Cello Sonatas

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Composers: Alexander Glazunov, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff
Artists: Alexander Russakovsky (cello), Amber Shay Nicholson (piano)

Bringing together works for cello and piano by some of the greatest composers in Russian music history, the set begins with Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata – a landmark piece for the composer and whose highlights include a lyrical opening movement and the furiousness of an apparent snowstorm in the second-movement Scherzo. The Pas d’action from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Sleeping Beauty, which follows, depicts the moment where Prince Désiré, wandering alone in the forest, is approached by the Lilac Fairy who shows him a vision of the beautiful princess Aurora, and this is followed by Glazunov’s Sérénade espagnole – the first of the composer’s ‘Spanish’ works, one which employs a ringing tone reminiscent of a Spanish guitar or lute. Bringing the collection to an end is Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata. This piece, beginning with a distinctly serious tone, metamorphoses into a triumphant carnival-like finale, complete with the festive bells that are so symbolic of Russian music.

Cellist Alexander Russakovsky enjoys an international reputation as a performer and teacher. He has given masterclasses as far afield as Latin America and Taiwan, and in recent years has won first prize at the Angela and Maurice M. Clairmont Competition in Tel Aviv and the Performing Arts Foundation Competition in Santa Barbara. Pianist Amber Shay Nicholson won the 2001 Rachmaninoff Concerto No.3 competition at the Eastman School of Music; she is also a former member of the piano faculty of the University of Southern Mississippi.

00:00:00 Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19: I. Lento – Allegro moderato
00:12:29 Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19: II. Allegro scherzando
00:19:22 Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19: III. Andante
00:25:07 Cello Sonata in G Minor, Op. 19: IV. Allegro mosso
00:36:16 Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66, Act 2: No. 15, Pas d’action. Andante cantabile (Arr .Albert Kleineke)
00:40:40 Pieces for Cello and Orchestra, Op.20: II. Sérénade Espagnole
00:43:30 Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 119: I. Andante grave
00:55:12 Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 119: II. Moderato
01:00:11 Cello Sonata in C Major, Op. 119: III. Allegro ma non troppo

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