This is a set for the brooding introspective and should be listened to in small doses! Repeated listening does tend to make things clearer and I found myself replaying the wonderful Rachmaninoff Sonata more than once, each time discovering new things and gems along the way.
Hyperion has just released a strong competitor in this particular work but I still believe Lynn Harrell top of his class in every department, with Ashkenazy accompanying like a dream. The rarely heard 'Five pieces' are also given sympathetic, atmospheric performances aided by the tangible clarity of the Decca recording.
The first disc is completed by a similarly commendable account of the Prokofieff Cello Sonata although here, I still believe Rostropovich's accounts remain unsurpassed.
Shostakovich dominates the second CD in this 'twofer' and here the riches are also to be found. Harrell is peerless in the Cello Sonata, another great work and the short two minute 'Moderato' is also very successful. The Fitzwilliam Quartet then enter the fray with Two Pieces that are suitably dense in texture, these players remain my favourite interpreters in the Shostakovich Quartet canon.
Finally there is a spirited and highly recommendable performance of the Piano Quintet with Ashkenazy and the Fitzwilliam players fitting in almost like a glove. This 'twofer' has well filled CDs and lovers of the cello should definitely not hesitate to add this compilation to their collection if they are missing the works in question.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech