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Alexander Ivashkin, cellist

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Review: Alexander Ivashkin and Irina Schnittke ****

Published Date: 12 December 2008
By David Denton

Even by the exalted ideals of these two great Russian musicians, their performance of the Shostakovich Cello Sonata was one of those remarkable experiences you will rarely encounter.

From that tender handling of the romantic love theme in the first movement, shared between the instruments, to the drama and technical virtuosity of the second and fourth movements, this was inspired musicianship.

The range of incandescent colours and details Ivashkin produced was revelatory, while Schnittke showed why she is so highly regarded as a Shostakovich interpreter.

The second half was devoted to a version for cello, piano and recorded tape of her husband's Epilogue from the ballet Peer Gynt, a score that sums up the life of the enigmatic character made famous in Grieg's music.

The result is a score of many moods and differing styles of composition that makes considerable demands. I don't suppose it will ever want for a finer performance. Even the performers looked pleased and surprised that a modern work was received with such rapturous applause, but by now the audience were well aware that this was a very special concert.

The Venue, Leeds