The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: A rewarding solo cello recital from a talented Russian player
Musicians: Boris Andrianov (cello)
Composer: Kodäly, Shchedrin, Sollima, Schnittke, Casals (arr. Geringas)

Boris Andrianov may not often commit himself to disc – his last solo recording was five years ago – but when he does it’s certainly worth the wait. Here he turns to unaccompanied repertoire both mainstream and experimental. Beauty of tone and fluidity of phrasing characterise his Kodály Sonata. The first movement is ebullient, light and bright, the most joyful interpretation I’ve heard, while the Adagio flows freely, and neat, fast bowing brings a fizz to the finale.

Two pieces by Italian cellist–composer Giovanni Sollima written for the Stradivarius International Cello Competition show off Andrianov’s impressive virtuosity. Lame dances frenetically, alternating rapidly between high and low double-stops, while in Alone, the transition from heavy, droning double-stops back to rapid semiquavers is whipped up in true peasant fashion.

Andrianov’s Montagnana cello has a pleasingly flutey tone in the tremolo harmonics that open Shchedrin’s folk-rooted Russian Fragments, and relishes the uncompromising darkness of Schnittke’s 1993 Improvisation. Casals’s Song of the Birds, in David Geringas’s highly effective solo cello version (unattributed on the disc) flutters and twitters freely, with the harmonies deftly touched in by Andrianov with characteristic grace. Sound is excellent, in a slightly reverberant acoustic.