The Wolf, the Rolls Royce and the Unicorn To each of us cellists these works belong to the great gifts of the twentieth century. Pieces to get one’s teeth into, to live in, bulging with character and individuality. Dramatic and meaningful music with plenty of suspense and theatrics. Inevitably they differ considerably, as far as style, cast of characters and the situations those characters have to face are concerned.
After all we are dealing with three unique artists and with compositions written over a period of almost three decades. The Shostakovich sonata feels like a kafkasque story, whereas the Prokofjev has characteristics of a grotesque fable and Britten of a magic-realistic allegory. Each pair nonetheless shows similarities. The sonatas of Shostakovich and Prokofjev have in common a combination of an almost conventional, tasty, juicy cello part with a remarkably unruly and drier piano part, the Prokofjev and Britten sonatas are written for Rostropovich and therefore truly for the concert stage and finally the Britten and Shostakovich both have the qualities of a self portrait, much more than the Prokofjev sonata that almost seems to be a portrait of Rostropovich…..
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