Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonatas

Chopin, Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonatas

Chopin and Rachmaninoff were both titans of the piano, which is why their cello sonatas are as much a feast for the keyboard as for the cello itself. Cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras and pianist Alexander Melnikov bring their considerable experience in authentic performance to this album. For the Chopin, Melnikov uses a 19th-century French Erard piano, the type that might have been played at its premiere at a private Parisian soirée in 1847. Its rounder, subtler tones would have suited this environment, its translucency allowing Chopin’s complex piano lines to shine brighter than they would on a modern grand. Melnikov has the measure of this beautiful piano, never overwhelming the creamy tones that Queyras teases from his 1696 Gioffredo Cappa cello. For the Rachmaninoff, a bigger work in every sense, Melnikov reverts to a modern Steinway, its richer, forthright sound almost orchestral in comparison. Rachmaninoff’s sonata, directly influenced by Chopin’s, feels almost like a concerto in miniature and is performed with great élan.

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