- Sonata for cello & piano in G minor, Op. 19
- Pieces (10) for piano (from the ballet Cinderella), Op. 97: Adagio
- Musica nostalgica, for cello & piano
- Etude for piano in B flat minor, Op. 8/11
- Sonata for cello (or viola) & piano No. 2 in A minor, Op. 81
Russian Music for Cello & Pianoby WarnerNuzova
Each highly gifted and sought-after performers in her own right, cellist Wendy Warner and pianist Irina Nuzova officially joined forces in 2008 to create the WarnerNuzova Duo. In celebration of their Russian musical roots (Nuzova was born in and studied for a time in Russia; Warner is a protégé of Rostropovich), they have selected for their first album a selection of Russian music for cello and piano. This is certainly not an unusual programming idea, but their choice of literature goes outside of the box. With the exception of the oft-recorded Rachmaninov sonata, Warner and Nuzova choose pieces with which listeners may be less familiar: the magnificent but woefully underplayed Myaskovsky "Second Sonata," the elegant Piatigorsky transcription of Scriabin's "Op. 8/11 Etude," the playfully clever Schnittke "Musica nostalgica," and charming Prokofiev Adagio from "Cinderella." Throughout the disc, Warner and Nuzova put forth technically spotless playing, extremely tight ensemble playing, ideal balance between the two instruments, and a real sense of a singular musical vision. While Warner's sound is strong and focused -- easily heard over the piano -- her recorded sound quality is surprisingly distant sounding, almost echoic. Apart from this minor flaw, listeners will enjoy a rapturous performance of the Rachmaninov sonata alongside convincing introductions to works that may be less familiar.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsWarnerNuzova Primary Artist
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From Fanfare: The "find" for me on this disc was the Miaskovsky. I've not always come away with uniformly favorable impressions from previous, though admittedly limited, encounters with this composer. But his 1949 A-Minor Cello Sonata is a gorgeous post-Rachmaninoff Romantic outpouring. Shame on me that I'd never heard it before now, especially since a comprehensive Internet edition of the composer's complete works and recordings, compiled by Onno van Rijen (home.wanadoo.nl/ovar/miasopus.htm), lists some 16 versions, a few, it's true, by some fairly obscure artists on equally obscure labels. Nonetheless, Wendy Warner and Irina Nuzova are not the first duo to discover its beauties. They revel in the score's riches, Warner drawing a tone of great depth and vibrancy from her cello, while Nuzova matches her partner with luxuriantly resonant sound across her piano's full range. Rachmaninoff's well-recorded, if not over-recorded, cello sonata was probably not in need of another version, but if it had to have one, Warner's and Nuzova's needn't take a back seat to any of them. Technically, Warner's playing is first-rate, with spot-on intonation, clean articulation, and alert rhythmic pointing. The cellist also displays a great deal of sensitivity to the music's particularly Russian ethos and pathos, though she herself is not Russian. But Rachmaninoff, the giant who bestrode the piano, could not help but write a work in which his instrument played an equal, if not dominant, role. The composer himself resisted the idea of calling the piece a cello sonata, insisting that it was in fact a sonata for cello and piano. Thus, one must judge performances of the piece as much by the pianist's contribution as by the cellist's. Nuzova rises to the occasion, never once flinching at the enormous technical difficulties Rachmaninoff's keyboard writing poses. This wouldn't be the only version of the piece I'd want in my collection-Mischa Maisky's live performance with Sergio Tempo from the 2005 Lugano Festival is electrifying, and Alexander Kniazev with Nikolai Lugansky on a Warner Classics CD is perhaps even more "Russian" than are Warner and Nuzova-but what I like about the Warner-Nuzova matchup is that of an absolutely co-equal partnership in which neither player defers to the other in asserting the importance of her part. The Scriabin etude transcription is quite lovely, though the annotator to the Naxos CD of Scriabin's complete etudes, George Ledin, Jr., describes this op. 8/11 etude as having a "Tchaikovskyan undertaste." I'm not sure whether to take that as being better or worse than an "aftertaste." Surely, it suffers no more from the lugubriousness that one commonly encounters in Russian music, and which is discussed at some length in the above interview. The Schnittke Musica nostalgica is a hoot, or perhaps better put, Haydn at a hootenanny. Warner and Nuzova play it for all it's worth, which, to me, isn't much, while Prokofiev's Adagio movement from his own transcription for cello and piano of 10 pieces from Cinderella makes a fitting disc filler. Recommended. FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
I have never heard Rachmaninov performed so brilliantly before! I have always enjoyed Wendy Warner but now I love her. And why have I never heard of Irina Nuzova before? This is a must have for any one who is a classical connoisseur. Enjoy!