1948 – Russian Works for Cello & Piano
Laura van der Heijden (cello), Petr Limonov (piano)
The young cellist, Laura van der Heijden scored a sensational hit as winner of the BBC Young Musician contest in 2012. For her debut recording, on the Champs Hill label, she is joined by the pianist Petr Limonov with whom she has previously given recitals at, for example, the Wigmore Hall. The album is titled ‘1948’ – the year that Stalin’s henchman attacked and derided the leading Russian composers of the day.
The main attraction of this CD lies in the two sonatas; namely Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata in C major, Op. 119 and Miaskovsky’s Cello Sonata No. 2 in A minor, Op. 81.
Prokofiev’s sonata was written for the great soviet cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. There are many fine recordings of this work on the market already including those by Truls Mørk & Lars Vogt, Pieter Wispelwey & Dejan Lazic and Rostropovich himself. However from the first notes of this performance it becomes clear that this is going to be a performance well worth listening to. These two artists bring out all of the colours in this melodious, neoclassical work as well as the subtle details and were clearly in the zone for this rather special performance. We also get a spontaneous and highly engaging account of the Miaskovsky work in which Laura is sensitively supported by Limonov.
In between these two accounts we have Shaporin’s Five Pieces for Cello and Piano, Op. 25 – a work that was new to me. In these cello pieces, also written for Rostropovich, Shaporin seems to have been inspired by both Prokofiev and Miaskovsky. Shaporin shows a natural gift for melody and his solid technique never fails in this work. The Aria is an expansive lyrical piece whose melancholy beauty almost reaches the level of Tchaikovsky! The Cd closes with Liadov’s Prelude in B Minor (arranged for cello and piano) which acts as a suitable encore for an imaginative and outstandingly performed debut disk.
Laura has already made a name for herself as a very special emerging talent, captivating audiences and critics alike with her insightful and faithful interpretations on stage. This CD will do much to strengthen her reputation with a wider audience. The performances more than hold their own in a crowded market place and the sound quality achieved by the Champs Hill engineers is exemplary.