Classical Music

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Passionate, Immaculate Interpretations Of Krzysztof Meyer, Dmitri Shostakovich


Krzysztof Meyer (Public domain); Dmitri Shostakovich (Photo: Roger Rössing & Renate Rössing/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE/cropped)
Krzysztof Meyer (Public domain); Dmitri Shostakovich (Photo: Roger Rössing & Renate Rössing/CC BY-SA 3.0 DE/cropped)

Krzysztof Meyer, Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello-Piano Sonatas (Kaleidos)


When asked to review compositions by a living musicologist, my inclination would be to catch the night train out of town and not approach a window before daylight. Musicology has degenerated in the past two decades into factional wars, with one American sideshow even arguing that it’s not necessary to read music in order to obtain a musicology PhD.

Krzysztof Meyer is, however, no ordinary musicologist. The foremost authority in Eastern Europe on the life and works of Dmitri Shostakovich, he pulls no punches about Shostakovich’s oppression by the Communist state, an attitude that made him less than popular among Soviet diehards. Meyer taught for 20 years in Cologne and now lives in West Germany. He turns 80 this year.

This sonata for cello and piano is the first music of his that I have ever heard, and I was drawn swiftly by its uncommon blend of lyricism, combativeness and an unmistakable Polishness in gesture and phrasing. He leads you down what seems to be an atonal thicket, only to clear it with an original turn of wrist and resolution.

The music is fascinating on many levels and, when paired with the Shostakovich cello sonata opus 40, irresistible. On one and the same record, you can hear both composer and commentator. Who could ask for anything more?

The superb players and Joanna Sachryn and Paul Rivinius, passionate and immaculate.

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