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In 1991, the successful twosome again headed for the studio of the prestigious Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation (Bayerischer Rundfunk). On 18, 19 and 22 March, they recorded their magnificent Prokofiev/Roslavetz CD for Orfeo, which was released by the label in 1992. On this CD, first of all, we meet Prokofiev's Sonata in C Op 119 again, which we already know from the 2003 re-release of Pergamenschikow/Gililov's 1985 recording of the same work. Yet the Orfeo version is not a simple matter of regurgitating their earlier interpretation.

Prokofjev - Roslavetz. © 1992 Orfeo International Music GmbH

By this time, the two friends had been in the West for almost fifteen years and their increased confidence, musically and personally, had also changed their music. One cannot say that it sounds more German than Russian this time around but while it still comes with a good dose of melancholia that the work warrants, it seems to be a more hopeful melancholia. The andante grave, track 1, still has very grave undertones but it is a gentler gravity now and the cello hums itself through the opening theme with alluring charm. Track 2, the moderato, is playful almost, as though their time in the West had helped these musicians shed some of the heaviness that still lingered over their interpretation in the previous version, stemming from the unfathomable situation of living in and then leaving a country that did not grant the same freedoms awarded to us in the Western world. I tend to prefer this version to the earlier Aulos one because, having grown with the music, the duo has also grown 'into' the music. Additionally, the Aulos version of 1985 comes on the same CD as Rachmaninov's Sonata in G minor (Op 19), which is so brilliant that it tends to outshine almost any other cello sonata on offer and so one can get tempted to never get beyond those first four tracks on the Aulos CD.

Pavel Gililov. Photo © 2004 Philip Crebbin
Pavel Gililov. Photo © 2004 Philip Crebbin

Also on offer are two works by Nikolaj Roslavets, a little-known Russian composer who lived from 1881 to 1944 and whose 1921 Sonata [listen -- C 249 921 A track 4, 0:54-1:57] is hauntingly beautiful, especially so when interpreted by his own countrymen. Roslavetz was well known in Russia in the 1920s, but by 1930 he had been pronounced 'the enemy' by the Russian system and was thrust into oblivion. This is unfortunate, for Roslavetz was a visionary who produced his own system of sound by organising notes on the basis of so-called synthetic chords: six to eight note complexes that could be transposed into a twelve note compass. He also developed a technique of symmetrical radial note rows, something that is splendidly displayed by Pergamenschikow and Gililov in the fugue section of the Meditation (1921), also on this CD. Prokofiev's Ballad in C minor is a heartfelt and very personal eulogy for a magnificent Russian composer.


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Copyright © 10 October 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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