Helen Wallace
BBC Music Magazine
January 2017

As a boy Alban Gerhardt linked his alarm clock to Slava's inhumanly speedy Popper Elfentanz. Here he matches him note-for-note, with a degree of eye-watering finesse that would have surely made his hero smile. The same can be said for the mercurial moto perpetuo of Christian Sinding's Presto and the student Rostropovich's own hilarious, gravity-defying Humoresque (a killer encore, it needs reinstating).

While Gerhardt's disc of Casal's encores glowed with old-fashioned refinement, this collection comes with an icy vodka shot of Prokofiev and Stravinsky: fabulous, high-kicking arrangements from his mentor's Cinderella (a vampish Waltz-Coda and extravagant Adagio) and a march from The Love of Three Oranges that blazes with impertinence. Stravinsky's 'Russian maiden's song' from Mavra often misinterpreted as a smooth arioso, breathes a primitive air, just as nasal, obsessive and clumsy as it should be.

There's Rachmaninov's yearning Vocalise, the exquisite Oriental Dance, and the vivid drama of Scriabin's shadowy Etude in B flat minor. Debussy's early Scherzo and Slava's lovely arrangement of Clair de lune are achieved with a dreamy weightlessness by both Gerhardt and Markus Becker, and Minstrels is a masterclass in airy athleticism; only Slava's own inimitable Moderato defies capture by another cellist.