S E R G E I I S T O M I N
R E V I E W S
Both concertos...have been subjected to numerous recordings, so the competition is enormous, (...) Istomin Passes the test with flying colours. (...) Stylistically, Istomin is impeccable, adorned with exquisite taste. (...) Rabinovich and the Apollo Ensemble provide a magnificent accompaniment, bright, energetic and imaginative.
CD: Haydn Concertos - Miguel Ángel González Barrio, diverdi.com, November 2010
Work of the Week: “This release on period instruments is an especially engaging musical conversation.”
CD: Mendelssohn, "Complete works for cello and fortepiano", With Viviana Sofronitsky - WETA, February 2010
The ‘big ticket’ items on this CD are the three-movement sonata op. 45 and its later, larger counterpart, op. 58. The first movements of both are grand and dramatic, and brilliantly played. The sardonic quality of op. 58’s allegretto scherzando is delightful here, and the innocent ending of op. 45 perfectly concludes this program of rich musical chiaroscuro… Istomin and Sofronitsky’s performance is a genuine and focused musical dialogue, full of thoughtful phrasing and a fluid and natural exhange of roles as the music requires. Both artists play with virtuosic flair, refined musical sensitivity, and an obvious affection for the repertoire. And their breadth of their tonal and dynamic palette is pretty astonishing!
CD: Mendelssohn, "Complete works for cello and fortepiano", With Viviana Sofronitsky - Alison Melville, The Wholenote (Canada), December 2008
..."song without words" asks more, not less, of its executor, who must reinvent the silences between words, the absent consonants, commas and question marks: It is the opposite of an excuse for a smooth, unhindered line. Cellist Sergei Istomin's playing is as eloquent as if he were sculpting out the syllables of a hidden text, not only in his ardent interpretation of the Song Without Words, Op. 109, but in the cello sonatas too. These blaze with clarity and urgency, not the least for pianist Viviana Sofronitsky's effervescent performance, on a period instrument remarkable for "special effects" in timbre no modern piano can match.
CD: Mendelssohn, "Complete works for cello and fortepiano", With Viviana Sofronitsky - The Globe and Mail (Canada), January 2009
* "...Virtuosity and interpretative depth are definitely in one's mind listening to Sergei Istomin playing the Bach Cello Suites."*
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - Audio Ideas Guide (Canada), 2005
"...Istomin's sound is very fine... It is a rich, vibrant sound, yet clear and bright. A model, in fact, of period performance at its very best."
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - The Victoria Times (British Colombia, Canada), 2005
"...listening to Istomin play Bach is like listening to a gifted storyteller. His engagement with these masterpieces is a human engagement; very persona!, easy in their command of musical space, unrushed, creating a breadth of projection in which detail is tenderly displayed."
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - The Chronicle-Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), 2005
"...Intelligence and emotional commitment mark this balanced account of these works. Istomin produces a vital, expressive sound and, with consummate skill and an ear for the whimsical, shapes the 36 dance movements that make up the suites."
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - The Ottawa Citizen (Canada), 2005
* "...Sergei Istomin's fine recording is the best I've yet heard on a period instrument... This young Russian-born 'cellist has absorbed the reformers' precepts about tonal weight and clarity of bowing without becoming formulaic about how he applies them."*
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - The Globe and Mail (Canada's National Newspaper), 2005
* "...Istomin prefers a less tensile attack, drawing the listener into the sonority rather than thrusting his sound into a hypothetical concert hall."*
CD: Bach, 6 Cello Suites - The Gazette (Montréal, Quebec, Canada), 2005
"...Mr. Istomin's performances are technically precise, rhythmically secure and stylistically apt. And, he knows how to work a phrase to its logical, expressive conclusion."
CD: Virtuoso Solos for Viola da Gamba (Abel, Schenk, Telemann) - Continuo Magazine (USA), 2004
"...Sergei Istomin is not only assured technically, with largely impeccable intonation and admirable control, but he is also musically alert and stylistically perceptive."
CD: Virtuoso Solos for Viola da Gamba (Abel, Schenk, Telemann) - The Strad (United Kingdom), 2004
...As he demonstrated in his previous Analekta album devoted to Bach's six Suites For Unaccompanied Cello, Istomin is a strong player with a forceful personality and it is good to have an album showcasing other instrument...
CD: Virtuoso Solos for Viola da Gamba (Abel, Schenk, Telemann) - Toronto Star, Thursday, October 16, 2003
These are, above all, thoughtful and beautifully poised performances, imbued with expressive breadth and a wistfulness that is thoroughly fitting for this glorious musical 'Spätlese'. Istomin's sound is silken and lustrous, though at times he can also produce a hauntingly stark, spectral qualityto enhance moments of austerity and tristesse. The Analekta team has produced a fine recording - detailed without being oppressive, and wrapped in a halo of church space.
CD: Virtuoso Solos for Viola da Gamba (Abel, Schenk, Telemann) - BBC Music Magazine, February, 2004
A recently received batch of new Analekta recordings fairly typifies the delicacies offered. Two widely divergent programs are particularly successful and can be warmly recommended. My first choice -a disc I have played numerous times in the past few weeks - brings to theforeground one of the mainstay members of Tafelmusik, the viola da gamba virtuoso SergeiIstomin. Trained in Moscow and at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, Istomin has honed his craft as a participant in many of the most renowned period ensembles. In a recital of solo viola da gamba works by the late 16th and 17th century composers CarI Friedrich Abel, Johannes Schenk and Georg Philipp Telemann, Istomin manages to make what might otherwise seem arcane, ascetic and pedantic sound both passionate and compelling. Abel was a good friend of J. S. Bach 's son Johann Christian, a fact that suggests some of the freedom and affect that his music attempts. Istomin makes the solo voice dance, sigh, ponder and proclaim, always perfectly on pitch and richly nuanced in timbre and dynamics; Analekta's sound engineer captures both the rich bass swells and the rosiny upper register to perfection.
CD: Virtuoso Solos for Viola da Gamba (Abel, Schenk, Telemann) - Ottawa Citizen, January, 2004