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Nothing to see here? These artists made excellent Decca studio recordings of sonatas by Schubert, Debussy and Britten (and the five Folk Pieces by Schumann), so why issue these previously-unissued 1961 Aldeburgh Festival recordings? Well, two reasons: this is the world premiere of Britten’s sonata, a tense, compact work written expressly for Rostropovich and fitting him like a glove; and the sheer magnetism of both musicians’ playing is jaw-dropping. The Schubert is warm and expressive, without the hint of mannerism that mars the studio recording; the Debussy and Schumann are vivid and captivating; the Britten (with two movements encored) incandescent. With generous Bach bonuses and naturally-balanced mono sound, this is a hugely important release.

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