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Russian Music for Cello & Pian


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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Haunting music, beautifully performed Sept. 5 2010
By Alan A. Elsner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I'm generally suspicious of national stereotypes but this new CD recording of cello and piano works by Russian composers illuminates and gives life to the concept known as the "Russian soul." The recording by Chicago-based Cedille Records brings together cellist Wendy Warner and pianist Irina Nuzova in a collection by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Scriabin and Schnittke. But it's the opening work by a composer I had never heard of, Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950) that was the real headliner for me.

Miaskovsky, who served on the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory from 1921 until his death, composed 27 symphonies, however he never won the fame of his contemporaries, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. His work is little performed today. But from the first notes of his Sonata No. 2 for Cello and Piano, Op 81, which opens this CD, one is struck by the lyrical beauty and deep melancholy of the piece which seems to express something quintessentially Russian. It's simply a gorgeous and moving piece of music that has never before been recorded on American soil by an American artist by an American label. How exciting to discover a new landmark of late Russian romanticism, which alone is worth the price of this recording!

The very useful program notes which accompany this CD includes an essay by the pianist, Nuzova who grew up in Russia but moved to the United States as a teenager to escape anti-Semitism. The sonata, she says, has a pervasive, nostalgic quality that is subtle and subdued in its expression. Nuzova says the music reminds her of a poem by Konstantin Balmont (1867-1942) called "Wordlessness" and she includes an English translation.

Let me just quotes one stanza:

"The reeds are unstirring, the sedge doesnn't quiver.
Deep quiet. And wordlessness, utterly peaceful.
The meadows spread out faraway and forever.
In everything - weariness, muteness and bleakness."

The poem is a perfect fit for the music.

Cellist Wendy Warner, also has a Russian connection. As a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, she had the rare opportunity to learn from the legendary Russian virtuoso and human rights activist Mstislav Rostropovich.

She and Nuzova, both strikingly attractive in the cover photo, meld together seamlessly in this CD. They also give us a witty, minor-key minuet by Schnittke, a Prokofiev transcription from "Cinderella," an encore piece by Scriabin and Rachmaninov's sprawling Cello Sonata, which to my mind is not one of his most inspired creations but which is delivered with utter conviction and intensity.

Cedille has been around for 20 years, devoted to showcasing classical artists from the Chicago area. We must be thankful to the company for bringing us two undiscovered gems - the Miaskovsky and the beautiful poem by Bal'mont.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Breathtakingly Beautiful Sept. 14 2010
By Rose Red - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Having recently been introduced to classical music, a friend gave me this CD as a gift while on vacation. I listened and re-listened to this CD as I drove across country. I found myself feeling so many emotions, that at one point I pulled over and just allowed the music to overcome my senses. I am a novice when it comes to classical, but that does not intimidate me. If music can touch the soul, Warner and Nuzova's performance of Cello Sonata No. 2 in A minor, Op. 81: I. Allegro moderato, reached in to mine and gave it life. There are so many wonderful works on this CD, including Musica nostalgica, I highly recommend it.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Full of grace and melancholy Oct. 24 2010
By Paul E. Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
American cellist Wendy Warner and Russian pianist Irina Nuzova, who have been performing together for a few years as the WarnerNuzova duo, present a warm, and satisfying recording in this collection of works by Miaskovsky, Prokofiev, Scriabin, Schnittke and Rachmaninov. Cedille specializes in recordings of music that is rarely performed in public, but should be, by artists that are not widely known, but should be. The sound quality on this disc is simply superb, and there is a line of grace and sweet melancholy running through every piece, as one would expect on a cello collection that explores the Russian soul.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
BEAUTIFUL LATE ROMANTI C WORKS WITH TWO UNKNOWN, BY ME, COMPOSERS Jan. 27 2011
By GEORGE RANNIE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This very beautiful Cedille label (out if Chicago, IL) recording features works for cello and piano by Scrabin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and, unknown to me, works by Miaskovsky and Scnittke. All the works are very late romantic Russian compositions that are played brilliantly by Wendy Warner on cello and by Irna Nuzova on the piano. Those two young women invest all of the works with technical brilliance and beautiful tone.

Although the compositions by the rather familiar composers (such as the Rachmaninov Sonata in G minor for cello and piano) are performed wonderfully, the compositions by the unknown, to me, composers, Nikoli Miaskovsky and Alfred Scnittke are really what make this album so very appealing to me. The aforesaid composers are late Russian romantic composers that studied composition in Russia. Their two works (Miakovsky's cello sonata in a minor and Schnittke's Musica Nostalgia) capture, to me, the very "spirit" of romantic Russia because they are filled with beautiful and haunting melodies and full bodied rhythms at least as played by these two performers on this very fine disc. It truly is a wonderful recording that I enjoyed very much. The recorded sound is very good too
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Warner and Nuzova Complement One Another --- Perfectly May 10 2013
By TomCZorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The four compositions presented here are four of the best one might select for a cello/piano duet. There are no harsh sounds, the transitions are "smooth as silk," and the interpretations are among the best I've heard. I strongly recommend this pair of excellent young musicians to you, and hope they continue to perform as well together as they do on this recording. Highly recommended!

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