Mischa Maisky & Lily Maisky – Adagietto
Martha Argerich, Janine Jansen, Julian Rachlin, Sascha Maisky
Deutsche Grammophon, 2018
Perhaps the title of the present recording, Adagietto, reminds many of you of Mischa Maisky’s album Adagio, released in 1992. However, if the elder album featured “standard” cello works, the newer one brings together fourteen arrangements from symphonies, operas and other instrumental works.
The idea of this recording stems both from the stereotype that the cello is the instrument that more closely imitate the human voice, and from the fact that it is not as unusual as it may seem to arrange compositions for a different instrument, as many composers allowed adaptations of their own works.
As the title implies, Adagietto brings together adaptations of German, Russian, French and Norwegian works that share one evident feature: their slow pace, which is its ideal guiding thread.
Adagietto: the Performance
Adagietto is an album of warm sonorities, where music flows peacefully. Maisky feels perfectly at ease in this context and finds in them some wonderful inspirations. He himself is aware of the fact when he states «speed is of no interest unless it serves some more absolute end» and this predilection is mirrored by the recording.
Maisky performs most of these pieces with his daughter Lily at the piano and of course it is superfluous to linger on their perfect understanding. Moreover, Maisky plays also a work with his son Sascha and three live recordings with Martha Argerich, Janine Jansen and Julian Rachlin round off the programme. These performances are amazing and nothing short of brilliance. In each of them, the performers bring expressive and timbral variety to the works and the huge palette of colours is admirable. They skilfully and effectively fight against the prejudice that the original version of a “classical” work should not be modified.
The album is an inspiring flowing of music. Maisky plays all the works with equal smoothness and refinement and above all with communicativeness. His cello has really a “voice” when it articulates a wide range of expressive subtleties, especially in pieces originally written for human voice. In the arias from Die Zauberflöte and Samson et Dalila, the cello’s voice is overwhelming in its emotional honesty.
The conversational style belongs also to the adaptation of instrumental works. Listen for example to Bach’s Largo from the Keyboard Concerto in F minor, where the colours of cello and piano are particularly rich and keep the music vibrant. The cello’s voice is lustrous in the title track, recorded with harpist Sophie Hallynck using a multitrack recording technique. The Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is finely characterized by the warm and evocative tone of the cello. Other orchestral pieces are equally valuable, as the melancholic October and the charming Andante cantabile, where the dialogue between strings and piano is eloquent and stylish.