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Rose & Shostakovich Cello Sonatas

Cello sonatas by Lawrence Rose and Shostakovich

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Catalogue Number: 5060192780895

Reviews

This Stone Records disc pairs cello sonatas by the contemporary English-born (now residing in Chicago) composer Lawrence Rose (2015) and Shostakovich (1934), performed by cellist Katherine Jenkinson and pianist Alison Farr. In her introductory comments, included in the CD’s liner notes, Jenkinson relates that upon receiving the score of the Rose Cello Sonata, she “immediately spotted similarities between his sonata and that by Shostakovich, and thought they would together form a good CD pairing.” Indeed, the similarities will, I think, be apparent to anyone who listens to this recording. Both sonatas are in four movements. An angular opening movement leads to a playful, ironic scherzo, followed by an extended and emotionally searching slow-tempo movement. The finales of each attempt to resolve the conflict of previous movements, but perhaps not in entirely convincing fashion. That approach to finales is certainly a Shostakovich trademark. In the case of the final movement of the Rose Sonata, an extended, introspective episode capped by the brief, manic closing bars, brought to my mind the parallel sequence in the Elgar Cello Concerto. Both the Rose and Shostakovich Sonatas embrace a Neoclassical esthetic. In his liner notes on the works, Lawrence Rose mentions Shostakovich’s acknowledgement of the influence of Stravinsky in his Cello Sonata. Rose, too embraces that influence in his sonata, particularly in the second movement scherzo, with its striking echoes of L’histoire du soldat. Rose and Shostakovich both explore the cello’s expressive potential, particularly in its middle and lower registers. I don’t want to give the impression that the Rose Cello Sonata is in any way an imitation of the Shostakovich. Each composer speaks in his own individual voice. And it’s no small compliment, I think, to say that in this recording, the Rose Cello Sonata justifies its place alongside the Shostakovich. I appreciate the opportunity this CD gave me to hear the music of Lawrence Rose, a self-trained composer who practiced law before devoting himself entirely to music, beginning in 2001. I look forward to listening to more of his works. Lawrence Rose dedicated his sonata to Katherine Jenkinson and Alison Farr, and they perform the piece with commitment, a beautiful and rich singing tone, and technical panache. The Shostakovich, likewise, is admirably played, with rather expansive tempos emphasizing the more lyric qualities of this work. The scintillating 1964 Decca in-performance recording from Aldeburgh of the Shostakovich, with Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten, is my reference for the sonata. But Jenkins and Farr offer their own, entirely convincing take on this superb piece. Brief excerpts from Shostakovich’s film score for The Gadfly, arranged for two cellos and piano by Levon Atovmyan and Colin Cowles respectively, are lovingly performed by Jenkinson and Farr, here in tandem with cellist Nicholas Holland, and make a fitting encore to the Rose and Shostakovich Sonatas. The recorded sound is splendid, with a realistic perspective that allows the artists to shine, without any hint of artificial spotlighting or boosting. Jenkinson’s introduction, the artist bios, and Lawrence Rose’s excellent program notes all enhance this first-rate production. A worthy project and one, I think, that merits your attention; recommended. (Fanfare)

Track listing
  1. Cello Sonata, Op. 20 – I – Allegro moderato (Rose)
  2. Cello Sonata, Op. 20 – II – Allegro (Rose)
  3. Cello Sonata, Op. 20 – III – Adagio (Rose)
  4. Cello Sonata, Op. 20 – IV – Andante (Rose)
  5. Cello Sonata, Op. 40 – I – Allegro non troppo (Shostakovich)
  6. Cello Sonata, Op. 40 – II – Allegro (Shostakovich)
  7. Cello Sonata,Op. 40 – III – Largo (Shostakovich)
  8. Cello Sonata, Op. 40 – IV – Allegro (Shostakovich)
  9. Gadfly – Prelude (Shostakovich)
  10. Gadfly – Romance (Youth) (Shostakovich)