There are so many fine aspects to highlight in this new recording from pianist Alexander Melnikov and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras. A few personal favourites: the tension of the thrilling gallop and pulsing pizzicato opening of the Allegro Scherzando of Rachmaninov’s G Minor Sonata, and the subsequent heartfelt cello melody that sings over rippling piano. The tender dialogue that unfolds between the two in the Largo of Chopin’s Cello Sonata in G Minor, Queyras’s veiled yet luminous cello sound echoed by at the piano by Melnikov with playing that rings like small silver bells. Or how about the momentum, and flair of the finale too, well, either of these two sonatas.

Jean-Guihen Queyras

It’s the calibre of music-making that we’ve come to expect from the Russian pianist and French cellist who, often along with violinist Isabelle Faust, are long-term musical collaborators. This follow-up to their Beethoven cello sonatas recording of 2014 is equally as intelligent, detailed and emotionally honest, delighting in the challenges posed by Chopin and Rachmaninov. Chief among them is that Chopin was first and foremost a pianist, and the cello writing is easily obscured by the tumult of notes and thick chordal writing for the piano. 

Melnikov has chosen an Érard piano from his own collection which goes a substantial way to evening out the balance between the instruments – far from a given on recordings of this piece. And for the Rachmaninov, he plays a Steinway, capable of unleashing the firepower needed for sonata’s virtuosic piano part. With Queyras’s cello singing beautifully, this recording is one to sweep the listener away. 

Listen on Apple Music

Composers: Chopin, Rachmaninov
Works: Cello Sonatas
Performers: Jean-Guihen Queyras, Alexander Melnikov
Label: Harmonia Mundi HMM902643

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