Michal Kanka / Jaromir Klepac

Shostakovich: Cello Works

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If cellist Michal Kanka played with a little more muscle and pianist Jaromir Klepac with a little less, this might have been an entirely great recording of Shostakovich's works for cello and piano. The disc includes not only the Cello Sonata, Op. 40, but arrangements of the Adagio and Spring Waltz from the Second Ballet Suite, and the Sonata, Op. 147, originally written for viola. In the quiet, inward music -- the Op. 40's Largo and the outer movements of Op. 147 -- this is a great recording. Kanka's rich but incisive tone and his expressive phrasing get deep under the notes of the music, and his performances are comparable to the best since Rostropovich's. But in the loud, extroverted music, Kanka is too often overwhelmed by pianist Jaromir Klepac, a fine player who cannot quite restrain himself from covering his partner. Generally, the two work exceedingly well together, voicing chords, phrasing lines, and leaning into climaxes as a single unit, but Klepac too often nearly drowns Kanka out. In the ballet suite's Adagio, Kanka and Klepac couldn't be tighter, but Klepac just can't stop himself from swamping Kanka with his enormous chords. Praga could perhaps have helped this situation by bringing up the cello while turning down the piano, but the sound here, though clean and evocative, too strongly favors the piano.

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