- Sonata for arpeggione & piano in A minor ("Arpeggione Sonata"), D. 821
- Stücke im Volkston (5) for cello (or violin) & piano, Op. 102
- Sonata for cello & piano, L. 135
Mstislav Rostropovich and Benjamin Britten's friendship was not merely a gesture of goodwill during the cold war but a true musical partnership. The English composer/conductor/pianist and the great Russian cellist teamed up many times between their first meeting in 1960 and Britten's death in 1976. This recording is culled from two different sessions: the Schumann and Debussy works were recorded in 1961, and the Schubert was recorded in 1968 (along with the beautiful Sonata Britten composed especially for Rostropovich). Schubert's Sonata -- originally written for the arpeggione, a strange (and short-lived) hybrid of the cello and guitar -- is a slender work, but these musicians make the most of its tender lyricism in a loving, spontaneous performance. Such spontaneity is a necessary ingredient for Debussy's Sonata, and rarely has the music flowed so naturally as here -- just listen to the Spanish-flavored whimsy of the final movement. As for Schumann's charming folk pieces, Rostropovich phrases them like a great lieder singer, while Britten (a superb and highly seasoned vocal accompanist) discovers a huge palette of colors in the simple piano part. The original recordings were quite fine, and these new remasterings offer slightly richer tone and sharper definition.