Prokofiev maintained an interest in the cello as a solo instrument throughout much of his career. This, coupled with his close personal and professional association with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, resulted in a number of compositions for the instrument. Many of these works, however, remained somewhat fragmented at Prokofiev's death and have been subjected to various arrangements and orchestrations. The Concertino in G minor, for example, has been arranged no fewer than three times. The present version, completed by Vladimir Blok, was finished as recently as 1996. The cadenza, which Prokofiev failed to write himself, is a compilation of unfinished sketches of Alfred Schnittke that were sewn together by cellist Alexander Ivashkin, heard on this album. The greatest culmination of these earlier works is the Sinfonia Concertante, Op. 125, written in collaboration with Rostropovich. Even here, Prokofiev left some of the orchestration duties to Rostropovich. This two-disc set features all of these large-scale works, as well as early Op. 58 Concerto, the breathtaking Sonata, Op. 119, and the unfinished Solo Sonata, Op. 134 (completed by Blok, as well). All of these recordings were previously released on various Chandos discs. Ivashkin's playing throughout the set is typically persuasive but can become a little saccharine and monotonous if listening straight through. He is quite fond of sliding into shifts -- almost all of them -- and with pieces with as many huge shifts as these, listeners may start wishing there was a clean shift every now and then just for something different. Ivashkin's Guarneri cello does not produce an especially powerful sound, although the orchestra does a nice job of staying out of the way so he can be heard. In the Op. 119 Sonata, the lower end of the instrument seems nasal and insufficiently rich.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 58|
|Concertino for cello & orchestra in G minor, Op. 132|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Sinfonia Concertante for cello & orchestra in E minor, Op. 125|
|Sonata for cello & piano in C major, Op. 119|