Esther Nyffenegger / Milana Chernyavska

Glière, Prokofiev: Great Russian Works for Cello

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The great Russian schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries produced generation after generation of not only world-class performing artists, but composers as well. One such generational hand-off is represented on this Divox album with teacher Reinhold Gliére and student Sergey Prokofiev. Selected from early in Gliére's output is the little-performed 12 Albumblätter, Op. 51, for cello and piano. This set of short, lyrical character pieces explores the multifaceted color potential of the cello. Much better known is Prokofiev's C major Cello Sonata, Op. 119, one of the final chamber works the composer was to complete. Gliére's penchant for lyricism can certainly be heard in his student's writing, but Prokofiev's harmonic language and use of texture far surpassed his teacher's. Performing are Swiss-born cellist Esther Nyffenegger and Ukraine-born pianist Milana Chernyavska. Nyffenegger possesses a powerfully rich, penetrating tone, particularly in the deep, dark register of her instrument. She plays with all the intensity and abandon as the great Russian cellists, and brings to the table musically insightful interpretations, vigorous but not over-applied vibrato, and careful application of a wide dynamic range. The only thing that stands in the way of this being a truly exceptional choice is the album's recorded sound quality, which is regrettably somewhat nasal and rather muddy and unbalanced during busy, forte passages.

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