David Geringas / Ian Fountain

Sergei Rachmaninov: Works for Cello and Piano

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Cellist David Geringas, whose long and accomplished career includes having studied with Rostropovich and a 1970 Gold Medal win in the Tchaikovsky Competition, continues to produce albums with an impressively broad repertoire. This 2009 release features Rachmaninov's works for cello and piano, of which only one was originally written for that combination of instruments (the sonata, Op. 19). The remainder of the album showcases transcriptions (some by Geringas himself, while some arrangements are unnamed) of many of Rachmaninov's underappreciated vocal songs. Surprisingly, Geringas does not execute this repertoire especially well. Intonation in the many song transcriptions is unreliable; more importantly, however, is the fact that Geringas's sound is not particularly song-like. Instead, his tone is painfully nasal and the timbre of his instrument drastically switches from string to string. The least appealing aspect of this performance is Geringas's choice of vibrato, which is so absurdly wide and fervent as to make a coloratura soprano envious. It is heard not only in the songs, but throughout the sonata, as well, where Geringas abandons the concept of chamber music and leaves pianist Ian Fountain struggling to be heard, no small feat in this sonata. While Geringas has many fine albums on the market, this misstep is simply not among them and listeners would do well to select from other available recordings of Rachmaninov's cello and piano works.

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