ANTON RUBINSTEIN: Cello Sonatas No. 1 in D & No. 2 in G; Three Pieces Op. 11 No. 2 for piano and cello – Michael Kanka, cello/Jaromir Klepac, piano – Praga Digitals

by | Oct 11, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

ANTON RUBINSTEIN: Cello Sonatas No. 1 in D & No. 2 in G;
Three Pieces Op. 11 No. 2 for piano and cello – Michael Kanka,
cello/Jaromir Klepac, piano – Praga Digitals Stereo-only SACD PRD/DSD
250 210.11 (2 discs), 81:47 ****:

A couple of tech matters to get out of the way first here: This program
is only less than two minutes over the 80 minute limit for SACDs, so it
is surprising the three pieces were not omitted in order to fit the two
cello sonatas on a single SACD. The primary stimulus for including all
three could be that all three of these works constitute the entire
output for cello and piano of Rubinstein, and this is the first album
to present all of them together. Also, also though the jewelbox has the
multichannel logo and the description of the hybrid SACDs says they are
multichannel, on both of my SACD-capable players I found only a stereo
mix – no surround.  This is unusual because nearly all classical
SACDs are now multichannel rather than stereo-only.

Rubinstein, who lived in the latter part of the 19th century, was
active not only as a composer but also as a pianist nearly as famous as
Liszt, and as a renowned teacher of other Russian symphonic composers
as well as founder of the Russian School of piano epitomized by
Scriabin, Rachmaninoff and many others. His importance in Russian
musical culture was that he brought in a strong influence of Western
music while still retaining the special qualities of Russian folk
melodies – making the output of such composers as Borodin and
Tchaikovsky more universal in appeal.

Both sonatas are large-scale works in which the piano is given an
almost equal musical role to the cello. Aside from the slow movements,
rapid tempi show off the virtuosity of the cellist. The first sonata
harks back to the pre-Classical sonatas of Boccherini, and is full of
strong melodic content. The finale of the three-movement work ends in a
hymn. The second sonata has a four-movement form and is more strongly
Romantic in nature. Rubinstein revealed that he wanted to emulate the
writing of Beethoven in this sonata. His predilection for passages in
octaves is heard in this sonata.  Praga’s engineer has captured a
rich and natural cello tone.  Kanka is the cellist of the famous
Prazak Quartet and Klepac founded the Rejcha Trio; both musicians are
based in Prague.

– John Sunier

 

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