David picks out some recordings of the works of Rachmaninov, perhaps the greatest composer for the piano of the Twentieth Century.
The young German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich has rapidly made a name for himself as one of the most exciting and gifted cellists of his generation. Leonard Elschenbroich’s many awards include: the Leonard Bernstein Award, Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, Eugene Istomin Prize, Pro Europa prize, Landgraf von Hessen price of the Kronberg Academy, Nordmetall Prize of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festiva and the Firmenich Prize of the Verbier Festival.
From 2004–2008 he was supported by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation, performing with her on a number of occasions, including a European tour. He is also part of the BBC New Generation Artists programme, and appeared at the 2012 Proms season together with his chamber music partners Nicola Benedetti and Alexei Grynyuk. Together with Benedetti and Grynyuk he embarks on a major chamber music tour of Scotland in March. Rachmaninov’s cello sonata was composed at the same time as the Second Piano Concerto. Although as one would expect from such a great pianist-composer, the piano part is demanding, it never threatens to overwhelm the cello, and the result is a beautifully balanced and passionate work.
Shostakovich’s viola sonata was his last composition, finished on his deathbed. Sketches show that the composer was also considering a second cello sonata for his old friend Rostropovich – then living outside the USSR. The arrangement on this CD for cello was made by Daniil Shafran with the dying composer's blessing. In the Viola Sonata, as in his Fifteenth Symphony, Shostakovich alludes to several of his previous works, from the Suite for two pianos Op.6 to the opening movement (De Profundis) from his Fourteenth Symphony. He also quotes from other composers’ works, Berg’s Violin Concerto and, most obviously, throughout the final Adagio, from the first movement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, which he uses as the basis for a kind of free meditation.