If you turn initially to track five, the first movement of Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata (in C, Opus 119), then you get the full richness of Hee-Young Lim’s deep and resonant tone. Impressive and arresting if partly due to her being closely balanced – Nathalia Milstein’s piano is slightly less fortunate in this regard, more an accompanist rather than a partner for what is a duo-Sonata – but there is no doubting the musicians’ intensity for this lyrical opening, soon to be contrasted with a more-volatile temperament, nor the musicianship of these performers, the greater personality coming from the cellist. Prokofiev’s second and final movements fare well, too, the former droll and oblique with a romantic episode at its centre, the Finale a confident Spring-day trot vying with a tender address from the cello en route to an expansive envoi. Mountain climbed.
Following which, Rachmaninov’s anyway-wordless Vocalise (Opus 34/14) is heard in one of its numerous arrangements. Here it comes across as overwrought – the cellist allowed to over-project, the pianist too discreet. And it’s Rachmaninov’s ambitious four-movement G-minor Sonata (Opus 19) that heads this release, the performers probing the music’s soul, unpredictability, yearning and, in the second movement, demonic side – to advantage. The slow movement is glorious. Milstein seems more ‘in the picture’ for this Sonata, as she needs to be, for Rachmaninov would hardly write down for his own instrument, no more than Prokofiev would. There is an excellent booklet note from Tully Potter – for Sony Classical 80358118497.