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Their friendship lasted until Pergamenschikow died in April 2004. From 1985 to 1994, the two musicians did a series of recordings for cello and piano together, most but not all of them for the prestigious German label Orfeo. These should be discussed in chronological order, which begins with the 2003 re-release, on Aulos, of their 1985 recording of Janácek's Fairytale, Debussy's Sonata in D Minor, Stravinsky's Suite Italienne, and Ravel's Piece en Forme d'Habanera (Aulos Musikado AUL 68536).

Janacek, Debussy, Strawinsky, Debussy, Ravel. © 2003 Aulos Musikado

Janácek's Fairytale for cello and piano (tracks 1-3) was originally titled 'The Fairytale of Berendel the Czar' when it appeared in 1910 and was based on a character creation of the Russian poet Zhukovsky. The final version of 1923, which is on the CD, was simply called Fairytale and its three movements are musically challenging and charged with contrast and variety. Both instruments are undeniably important in this highly melodic work, and the effect Pergamenschikow brings about by constantly enticing the piano into more spontaneous playfulness is highly gratifying [listen -- AUL 68536 track 3, 0:01-1:10].

Stravinsky's Suite Italienne also suited the two Russian musicians just fine: the 1934 version for cello and piano, where the composer orients himself on Pergolesi's harmonic progressions but thwarts them by adding a modern composer's touch, could potentially produce a very ineffective listening experience were it performed by two musicians who are not perfectly attuned to one another. But these two are, of course, and so they provide a fruitful and refined journey into the Russian composer's mind, as could only be brought about by two musicians who understand the Russian soul and, hence, the composer's.

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Copyright © 6 October 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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