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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2014

Kostov and Valkov are artists of distinction, and both deserve a great deal of credit for their commitment to mastering these difficult works and for presenting them in such commanding and convincing performances.

…Lachezar Kostov and Viktor Valkov have gone a very long way to winning me over to music I would ordinarily be strongly disinclined to listen to, let alone like. That speaks volumes to the dedication and outstanding playing by these two superb artists. If they could persuade me of the merit of this music, persuading you should not be difficult. Therefore, I strongly recommend this disc and urge you to give it a try. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

David W Moore
American Record Guide, July 2011

The performances here are impressively gutsy and virtuoso…so these are your best bet. It is worth your while; Roslavets is a strong composer.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, April 2011

With this disc Naxos continues its path-finding role in unearthing little known—and sometimes even unknown—repertoire which does sterling service to composer and listener alike.

The compositions on this disc will be further assistance in putting Roslavets’ music in the spotlight. It will undoubtedly be recognised for the brilliance of its writing and the new direction that was being ploughed in that brief but exciting period of the early twentieth century in Russia. The Cello Sonata No.1 from 1921 launches itself straight into spiky rhythms without any preamble. Those listeners who might be put off in advance by the comparison with Schoenberg often, and I think incorrectly, made, should take heart as this is by no means full blown atonality. It is full of inventiveness characterised by beautifully lyrical lines tinged with the anguish so redolent in ‘the Russian soul’. The Sonata’s tortured cello line continues until half way when there is something of a more calming aspect that comes to the fore. The over-arching sadness returns to conclude the work. Overall it puts the players to the test as this is technically difficult music. It is to the credit of the two young players here that there is little hint of that. ‘Meditation’ opens with another very serious and reflective theme and its mood is maintained throughout. The Sonata No.2 at twice the length of the first is once again a meditative, introspective piece that pulls no punches in the emotion it conjures but contains some beautiful melodies, particularly in the piano parts that provide a counter to the cello’s more sombre mood. Dances of the White Maidens is the earliest work on the disc, dating as it does from 1912, and shows Roslavets as the innovator that other composers recognised him to be. The opening notes from the cello are more lyrical and less tortured though still soulful and the theme is worked on throughout the piece. As the liner-notes put it the work, takes one into “a mystical and ethereal universe” which is underlined when, at the end the instruments simply dissolve into silence. The final work, the Viola Sonata, transcribed for cello and piano is a lovely one with gorgeously rich harmonies that the two instruments weave between them. It repays frequent hearings, as do all the works here. The main theme is so full of passion that one regrets it when the end comes making you want more. It is the least difficult music on the disc and is immediately rewarding.

The two instruments in all the works here presented are equal partners, the piano having as much to say as the cello. The two young Bulgarian musicians are completely committed to communicating the essence of the music to their listeners. If you find this music as interesting and exciting as I do then I can wholeheartedly recommend that you also try the other Naxos disc of his Violin Sonatas 1, 4 and 6 and 3 Dances, on Naxos 8.557903.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2011

Born in the Ukraine in 1880, Nikolay Roslavets graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, his early career being dominated by a desire to formulate a new approach to composition. Originally a devout member of the Communist Party he became a leading figure in the administration of Contemporary music in Russian. That was eventually to find him at odds with Socialist artistic dogma, and he resigned from the Party, his name disappearing from Soviet concert programmes from the 1930s onwards. Unlike many others who, to some measure, came to terms with that dogma, Roslavets remained true to his artistic principals, and though he continued composing until his death in 1944, he never heard most of his works performed in public. The disc, which is devoted to the period before his public denouncement, I find a strange mixture. At times we have the influence of the Second Viennese School; other moments we have Rachmaninov; now it is atonal; now it is tonal; we have those twelve-tone principals most audiences cannot fathom, and then we have a likeable melody. I can even detect Szymanowski in the Viola Sonata of 1926 (here transcribed for cello). So what do we make of it? Certainly an individual voice, and if you start with the last track—the explosive and passionate Viola Sonata—you will surely want to hear more.  Yet you might find the Second Cello Sonata of 1922 difficult to like or understand. It will all be a matter of personal taste. The Bulgarian duo of the cellist, Lachezar Kostov, and pianist, Viktor Valkov, being passionate advocates, playing some exceedingly difficult music for both instruments with superb dexterity and brilliance, the piano going way beyond and accompanying role. That display alone is worth the price of a splendidly recorded release.

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