Alisa Weilerstein / Inon Barnatan

Rachmaninov, Chopin: Cello Sonatas

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There is no shortage of recordings of Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, and Chopin's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65, but there aren't so many that put the two works together. Doing so reveals the degree to which Rachmaninov took Chopin as his model in his 1901 work: the big, contrapuntal opening movement with fascinating harmonic tipping points, the brisk scherzo and relatively short, songful slow movement, followed only by a more sweeping finale from Rachmaninov. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnatan offer something other than the rafter-ringing approach that is so often brought to Rachmaninov: the power is held in reserve for the climaxes. These two artists are not an ad hoc team, but are closely attuned to one another, and their restrained way with these works is especially effective in the Chopin: they tease out the contrapuntal details and respect the intricacy and relative intimacy of this work in a way that few other pairs do. The virtuoso display is left for the two Chopin encores that are often paired with the Cello Sonata: the arrangement of the Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 25, No. 7, by the sonata's original player, August Franchomme, and the early Introduction et Polonaise brillante for cello and piano. Op. 3. With superb sound from Berlin's Teldex studio, this is a Chopin recording that will reward many listens.

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