- Sonata for solo cello No. 1, Op. 72
- Preludes (24) for solo cello, Op. 100
The music of Soviet Russian composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (also known as Moises Weinberg) has enjoyed a modest revival as the issues surrounding who left for the West and who stayed and made the best of a bad situation begin to recede. The music on this fascinating album reflects that schism in several ways, and the notes by Latvian-born cellist Josef Feigelson (in English only) will be worth the price for students of Soviet music. Feigelson is, for now, the champion of the "24 Preludes for solo cello, Op. 100," and the story of how he came to perform and record them is illustrative in itself. After finding them in a small-town music store, he prepared to leave the Soviet Union himself. As he scheduled his final recitals in the country, pianists regarded him as a defector (although his emigration followed legal channels) and refused to perform with him, so he turned to Weinberg, whom he had previously disdained as an "official" Soviet composer. Later he learned that Weinberg had written the preludes (and the shorter "Sonata for solo cello No. 1, Op. 72," that rounds out the program) for Mstislav Rostropovich, who refused to perform them after he left for America. In response to Feigelson's question, Rostropovich angrily called the non-dissident Weinberg a coward. But the next generation often can see past the individual choices to the music, and Feigelson is unlikely to be the last cellist to perform the preludes. For players, they have the attractive feature of being susceptible to slicing and dicing in several different ways. They might be thought of as a mixture of the Bach and Chopin prelude-set concepts, using a variety of 20th century techniques (none, of course, too adventurous, but this isn't socialist realism, either). That is, they ascend through the keys, or at least tonal centers, beginning with C, but each prelude is also a study in a certain texture or motive and its possible implications. A sensitive and committed cellist is a necessity, and Feigelson definitely qualifies as one, but these are not showpiece works. Originally recorded in 1996 with decent sound from a New York college recital hall and released on the Olympia label, this was a fine choice for reissue on Naxos, with its focus on neglected national styles.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This recording consists of a set of 24 Preludes and a Sonata for Solo Cello, all originally written for Mstislav Rostropovich by Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Each prelude is short (generally under 2 minutes in length) and varied, although each has that unique Russian feel - if you like the music of Shostakovich, then you'll feel right at home here. There are preludes that seem methodical, some that suggest various folk tunes, some that are somber, and some that seem to be reaching for something. There is a wide range of emotions and feelings.it is a shame that Rostropovich, by choice, never played these. As for the Cello Sonata, it starts off somber, lonely, and longing, becoming more forceful and urgent as the first movement continues. The second movement continues with the a more young-feeling version of the same theme that dominates the first movement, but in a bit of a playful way. The third movement gets right back to business. The sense of urgency is back, but also the feeling of purposefully trying to stay ahead of something. This sonata could easily be the sonata for a portion of a movie soundtrack. It's really fun to listen to. So what do I think of this recording? The sound quality is good, and the cello playing is also quite good. Musically, if you like the music of Shostakovich then you will probably enjoy this disc. If you don't like that type of music, then this recording is probably not for you.