The music is, variously, brutal, passionate, and desperate, with the two performers negotiating these emotional hairpin curves fearlessly. Sonically, this is the first chamber music recording I’ve heard that rivals my #1 reference of over 20 years, the Abel/Steinberg violin sonata LPs from Wilson Audio Specialties. The players are eerily present in your room, the cello in front of the keyboard (an 1880 Érard), dimensional and correctly scaled.

Every so often, something astounding comes along out of the blue, and this is one of those times. The improbable program is a 28-minute distillation of an infrequently performed Prokofievopera, arranged for cello and piano. The performers are two young players with extraordinarily advanced musical interests and instincts. Maya Fridman, the cellist, is not yet 30 but confidently lists the Bach solo suites among her recital pieces, as well as music by Crumb, Vasks, and Golijov. Pianist Artem Belogurov has made a recording of 19th-century American keyboard music on a vintage Chickering grand. The Dutch label TRPTK, which has a grand total of 11 titles in its catalog, was founded by Brendon Heinst, who serves as both recording and mastering engineer.

Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel was based on a novel by the Russian Symbolist writer Valery Bryusov. I can’t begin to detail the plot here, but suffice it to say that the heroine has sex with a Count she believes (incorrectly) is the human incarnation of an angel she admires and, four acts later, she’s burned at the stake. The music is, variously, brutal, passionate, and desperate, with the two performers negotiating these emotional hairpin curves fearlessly. Sonically, this is the first chamber music recording I’ve heard that rivals my #1 reference of over 20 years, the Abel/Steinberg violin sonata LPs from Wilson Audio Specialties. The players are eerily present in your room, the cello in front of the keyboard (an1880 Erard), dimensional and correctly scaled. TRPTK offers the recording on CD and in a number of files formats, ranging from FLAC 44.1 to 4X DSD.

The Fiery Angel (Download)

Maya Fridman & Artem Belogurov