MISCHA MAISKY (Cello)
LILY MAISKY (Piano) et al
Deutsche Grammophon 483 5561 / ****1/2
This appears to be merely a compilation album of slow encore pieces, but it comes from the great Latvia-born cellist Mischa Maisky, renowned for his big warm tone and outsized personality to match.
The titular track is his own arrangement of the Adagietto third movement from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony for cello and harp (played by Sophie Hallynck). Purists might balk at the use of multi-tracking, which sounds like both players being backed by an ensemble of strings, but the effect is magical.
Equally enjoyable are further slow movements, all transcriptions, of music by Marcello (Oboe Concerto), J.S.Bach (Keyboard Concerto BWV.1056), Tchaikovsky (piano pieces), Massenet (Meditation from Thaïs), Grieg (Solveig’s Song), Scriabin, Mozart and Saint-Saëns. In this family affair, he is accompanied by pianist daughter Lily while violinist son Sascha joins them for Schubert’s passionate Notturno in E flat major.
The last two tracks are live performances involving star power. Maisky is partnered no less by pianist Martha Argerich, violinist Janine Jansen and violist Julian Rachlin in the Andante Cantabile of Schumann’s Piano Quartet. This and the Andante from Brahms’ Third Piano Quartet have the cello wallowing in the big melodies, and Maisky gratefully laps it all up.