Jacques Ammon / Cello Project / Eckart Runge

Russian Soul

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This is not, as they say, your grandma's Russian cello album. The first clue to this is the album's pictures of cellist Eckart Runge and pianist Jacque Ammon posing and seemingly "flying" through a subway station. The second clue is the program itself. Sure, there's plenty of Rachmaninov to go around, including the well-known G minor Sonata, the Vocalise, and an arrangement by the performers of two little known songs. But it's what Runge and Ammon choose for the rest of their program that truly distinguishes this album. The music of Nikolai Kapustin (born 1937), in this case the Sonata No. 2 and three miniatures, is in the same passionate vein as Rachmaninov, but of a totally different style. Kapustin synthesizes many different, modern musical forms from jazz to blues to rock into a classical framework. The result is not only successful, but completely captivating and entertaining, providing an ideal counterpart to Rachmaninov. Runge and Ammon handle these contrasting styles with great conviction and a diverse palette of colors. Their playing in the Rachmaninov works is deeply romantic and sensual, with an impressive balance between piano and cello in the sonata. Kapustin's works are played with playfulness, rhythmic fluidity, and completely natural melodic gestures. Combined with Genuin's appealing sound quality, this album is definitely worth checking out.

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