Cellist Bozidar Vukotic and pianist Alissa Firsova make their debuts on SOMM with Russian Visions, a revealing survey of chamber duets by three 20th-century giants: Stravinsky, Schnittke and Dmitri Smirnov.
Five contrasting works reveal the diversity of stylistic approaches in modern Russian music while also paying tribute to the country’s revered school of cello playing in pieces dedicated to legendary Russian cellists of the last century – Gregor Piatigorsky, Natalia Gutman and Mstislav Rostropovich.
The modernism of Schnittke’s Second Cello Sonata is heard alongside the romantic lyricism of his First Sonata and Smirnov’s Tiriel, and against the neo-classical leanings of Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne and Schnittke’s Musica nostalgica.
Heard here in its first recording, Dmitri Smirnov’s Tiriel – one of many pieces inspired by the artist William Blake – was drawn from his similarly titled 1985 opera and takes the form of a lilting, lyrical lullaby welcoming the release from sorrow afforded by sleep.
Bozidar Vukotic is a founder-member of the Tippett String Quartet and has been guest principal cellist with leading orchestras in the UK and Europe. He studied with Rostropovich protégé Stefan Popov at the Guildhall School of Music, where he was awarded the prestigious Premier Prix, completing his studies with William Pleeth in London and Alexander Kniazev in Moscow. He teaches at the Purcell School and is Cello Professor at Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
A much in demand pianist who made her Wigmore Hall and BBC Proms debuts in 2009, Alissa Firsova is also a former BBC Proms Young Composer whose music has enjoyed widespread international exposure in the concert hall and on disc. Her solo performing is complemented by chamber collaborations with distinguished artists such as Stephen Kovacevich, Steven Isserlis, Tim Hugh and Andrew Marriner. She also has a burgeoning career as a conductor. Dmitri Smirnov is her father.
Russian music authority Gavin Dixon has written the illuminating booklet notes.
On This Recording
Stravinsky: Suite Italienne for cello and piano
- 1. Introduzione
- 2. Serenata
- 3. Aria
- 4. Tarantella
- 5. Minuetto e Finale
- 1. Largo
- 2. Presto
- 3. Largo
- 1. Senza tempo
- 2. Allegro
- 3. Largo
- 4. Allegro
- 5. Lento
- Tiriel, Op. 41c
- In tempo di Menuetto
Schnittke: Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano
Schnittke: Sonata No. 2 (Quasi una Sonata)
Schnittke: Musica nostalgica for cello and piano (arr. M. Rostropovich)
“[The] recital conveys the impression of an intimate… event.” —Gramophone