Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonatas

Jean-Guihen Queyras / Alexander Melnikov

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Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonatas Review

by James Manheim

Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras is not exactly a household name, at least not outside France, but he is emerging at the top of the pack. He has a wonderful sound in the classic French tradition, precise and yet delicately lyrical. The Chopin Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65, fits his talents, and those of pianist Alexander Melnikov, beautifully. The Chopin sonata is virtually the only large, multi-movement work of the composer's full maturity, and it makes one curious about the directions in which he might have gone had he not died young. Queyras captures its polyphonic and motivic density -- much of the whole big first movement evolves from a single cell stated at the beginning -- with flashes of melody periodically penetrating the mists. Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, is an ideal pairing for the Chopin and indeed was explicitly modeled on it, with a hefty first movement followed by three shorter studies. Queyras and Melnikov make the connections especially clear, and in general this is a recital that's both cohesive and beautiful. Superb sound from Berlin's Teldex Studio is a major plus.

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