Two of Sydney’s favourite musicians, Sydney Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist Catherine Hewgill and Vladimir Ashkenazy have made their debut recording together. With the title From Darkness to Light, the recording was made over two days in October 2016 and will be released on the Decca label on 3 November 2017.
Vladimir Ashkenazy swaps his conductor’s baton as he returns to the piano to record this all-Russian program with Catherine Hewgill. The album features the cello sonata of Shostakovich and Prokofiev with the added pendant of Rachmaninov’s Vocalise in an arrangement by American cellist Leonard Rose. This is their first recording for Decca (Australia), commissioned by Sydney based music supporter,
The album’s title From Darkness to Light, ‘reflects the many very dark passages in each of the two sonatas, which ultimately seem to resolve themselves into the possibility of universal light and hope,’ says Ms. Hewgill. ‘I very much enjoyed working on this recording with Katie Hewgill. She is a very artistic and highly professional musician. Also, as I am Russian, it certainly feels very natural to me to identify with this great music,’ says Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Prokofiev’s Sonata for Cello and Piano opus 119 congtains some of his best writing with astringent harmonies and motoric rhythms. The sardonic and pessimistic temperaments that characterized much of his earlier music have been replaced with a more palatable lyricism, and an apparent willingness to please rather than to provoke.
Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano opus 40 was his first important chamber work, written in 1934, in the wake of a spell of notoriety. This was the same year as the premiere of his ‘shocking’ opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District and was completed on 19 September that year, a week before he turned 28.
Vladimir Ashkenazy celebrated his 80th birthday on 6 July this year with a brand new recording of J.S. Bach’s French Suites. Decca Classics also released two box sets of his complete concertos and chamber music, highlighting his extensive and venerated discography.
1-3. Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 119
4-7. Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40
8. Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14
(arr. for Cello and Piano by Leonard Rose)
Catherine Hewgill, cello
Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano