This enterprising and rewarding release features three Soviet Violin Sonatas that have a lot in common, not least that each is well-worth getting to know – for they are all immediately attractive and, more importantly, they issue an invitation to return in order to discover more about them.
The two-movement example by Nikolai Miaskovsky (1947), receiving its “première commercial recording”, is initially lyrical, innocent and carefree, and might pass for a French composer, Chausson perhaps (he came to mind anyway), music of sustained melody; it’s lovely stuff, and the marking of Allegro amabile is apt. The longer second movement, as befits a set of Variations, offers plenty of contrasts, and in a very inventive and diverse way – music that is consistently expressive in its communication; overall, this is a very appealing work.
The Sonata by Vissarion Shebalin (1958) is similarly likeable, rather inward to begin with, somewhat melancholic, for the first of four concise movements, and with echoes of Prokofiev, dead five years then, Stalin likewise. Light glinting, resolute in part, with an affecting middle section, informs the second movement, succeeded by a tender Andante and a swinging, folksy Finale, scintillating in the closing bars.
Vasily Nechaev’s Sonata (1928) gives its secrets up less easily; not that it’s boundary-breaking in terms of musical language, quite traditional in fact (I thought of César Franck a couple of times, his Violin Sonata, during the first movement). However this is music of volatility, shadows, intimacy, striving, intensity, heart and soul, and impetuosity, even if Nechaev doesn’t want to end the Finale, the longest of the three movements and which at one point gives a fair idea of coming to a conclusion, and then carries on, although further listens may adjust that opinion.
With the small caveat that a few more seconds of silence would have been welcome between movements, and certainly between works, there can be nothing but praise for the performances by Sasha Rozhdestvensky and Viktoria Postnikova (mother and son, linked by the recently late Gennadi Rozhdestvensky), played with conviction, technical ability and evident rapport, and beautifully recorded into the bargain, the instruments immediate, well-balanced and faithfully captured. Presentation and annotation are also excellent.