The Art of the Cello: Two Hundred Years of Cello Masterpieces takes a different approach to programming than many compilation albums do, different in a good way. For starters, cellist Dmitry Kouzov and pianist Peter Laul decided to offer listeners complete performances of their selected works, rather than snippets and single movements from larger compositions; this is most certainly a welcome decision. But even the pieces they selected to represent the cello's repertoire over two centuries of music are not quite what one might expect for such an introductory album. Rather than performing Beethoven's wildly popular A major Sonata, Kouzov and Laul decided on the equally exhilarating but less frequently heard G minor Sonata. Their decision to include the rich Schumann Op. 73 Fantasiestüke and the poignant Shostakovich sonata follows the lineage and tradition that Beethoven set forth in his early sonata. Also on the album is a short but charming Humoresque of Rostropovich and a brilliant, colorful work by twenty first century composer Sean Hickey. Apart from programming, Kouzov and Laul's performances are technically solid and musically satisfactory; Kouzov's choice of tempos, particularly in the Beethoven, tend to be on the slow side. The biggest issue with the album, however, is the recorded sound quality. With the exception of Hickey's "Beara," which is for solo cello, the combined sound of the cello and piano in the remainder of the album is quite indistinct and blurred together. Both instruments seem distant and echoic. Despite this concern, the album is still a reasonably good choice for those looking for their first foray into the broad cello repertoire.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata for cello & piano No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5/2|
|Phantasiestücke (3 Fantasy Pieces) for clarinet (or cello or violin) & piano, Op. 73|
|Sonata for cello & piano in D minor, Op. 40|