Recording of the month
BBC Music Magazine

maart 2018
Daniel Jaffé

An imaginative and impressive debut

Laura van der Heijden dazzels in both rare and well-known cello sonatas from the Soviet era, says Daniel Jaffé

From the first, richly resinous tone of the cello solo that opens Prokofiev’s Sonata, one senses that this album will be a treat. There are dozens of recordings of that work, several of them extremely good. Laura van der Heijden, winner of 2012’s BBC Young Musician competition, now joins forces with Russian pianist Petr Limonov in a performance that can hold its own, and on an album that is most imaginatively programmed.

In writing his Cello Sonata for that great musician, Prokofiev also had the example of his old friend Myaskovsky, whose gently melancholic Second Sonata was also written for Rostropovich in the very year of Myaskovsky’s and Prokofiev’s disgrace. Yet, as these heart-felt and compelling performances by Van der Heijden and Limonov demonstrate, these are not cowed and dutifully conservative works. The Prokofiev, both melodious and neo-classical in form and proportion – like his Second Violin Sonata – is full of coulours and subtle detail which become more apparent over many hearings, each appearing to reveal new emotional vistas.

Performance *****
Recording *****

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Recommended Recording
The Strad

maart 2018
Peter Quantrill

Outstanding, original Russian recital from a BBC Young Musician

If you expect the shadow of Rostropovich to fall heavily over this repertoire, as you might, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Nineteen years of age when she made this surprisingly appealing musical portrait of postwar Russia, Laura van der Heijden plays with a winning and refreshing determination to make this music dance and sparkle.

Van der Heijden uses plenty of right elbow in the scherzos of both the Prokofiev and the anachronistic character pieces of Shaporin, but there is also some lovely portamento to be savoured, especially in the burgeoning first melody of Mysaskovsky’s Sonata which, in the hands of the 2012 BBC Young Musician winner, opens like a flower after a long winter. It’s her positive lyric impulse that puts a spring in the step of the slightly meandering stretches of both sonatas. This is much more than a ‘promising’ debut album.

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Soulful Selection of Work under Stalin
The Guardian

januari 2018
Erica Jeal

Much to say...

Nearly six years after winning the BBC young musician of the year, cellist Laura van der Heijden makes her recording debut with an all-Russian disc that shows her to be, at 20, already a thoughtful artist with much to say.

Van der Heijden and pianist Petr Limonov bring to all a perfectly judged weight, the cello singing out long lines of sustained intensity that get to the heart of this soulful music.

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Van der Heijden kan tevreden zijn over haar eersteling
de Volkskrant

maart 2018
Biëlla Luttmer

Van der Heijden, zes jaar geleden gekozen tot BBC Young Musician of the Year, kan tevreden zijn over haar eersteling. In haar beloftevolle, karakteristieke toon klinkt de leeftijd van haar eeuwenoude instrument door, maar ook de onstuimige passie van een jonge rasmuzikante voor haar vak.

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Laura Van Der Heijden’s New CD Tops Among Crowded Cello Releases
La Scena

januari 2018
Norman Lebrecht

It just got a whole load tougher out there for young cellists.

Album of the week is, outstandingly, a record debut by BBC Young Musician winner Laura Van Der Heijden with pianist Petr Limonov (Champs Hill ****). Themed to the year 1948, when Stalin launched his assault on musicians, it presents starkly contrasting sonatas by Prokofiev and Miaskovsky, buttressed by lighter works of Yuri Shaporin and the 19th century Anatoly Liadov. Van Der Heijden refuses to prettify the grim circumstances in her playing, though she can do tender when required. These are serious, adult interpretations, properly considered and ready to contend with the best in the field.

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januari 2018
Jan de Kruijff

Een fijn, veelbelovend debuut

Maar met ontzag en respect moet worden vastgesteld dat Laura van der Heyden zich niet hoeft te schamen voor haar beroemde collega’s, zoals bij vluchtig vergelijken blijkt. Vol zelfvertrouwen en beschikkend over een waar arsenaal aan techniek laat ze haar cello mooi fraserend en articulerend zingen, spreken en trillen met een goed gedoseerde intensiteit en steeds de essentie van de werken onthullend. Daarvoor heeft ze de beschikking over een Joseph Hill instrument uit 1780. Gelukkig begeleidt Petr Limonov, die eerder Nicola Benedetti begeleidde in bewerkingen van werken van Brahms, Chopin, Monti (Decca 478.5338), van Kabalevsky, Prokofiev (Onyx ONYX 4122) en van Schnittke (Onyx ONYX 4180) en zo zijn sporen verdiende op ideale wijze. Wat een fijn, veelbelovend debuut.

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Russian Works for Cello and Piano

januari 2018
Richard Bratby

One to live with.

Prokofiev’s Cello Sonata begins with a melody low on the C string, and no expression markings: just the instruction piena voce (full voice). So it’s hard to explain exactly why Laura van der Heijden makes it sound and feel quite so right. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t strive for effect. Van der Heijden’s tone is handsome, and her vibrato opens out to inflect the top of the phrase before the line slips without fuss beneath the piano’s answering melody. There’s a naturalness about her approach, as well as a certain earnestness – at any rate, she sounds like she takes the piece seriously.

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Great debut album from 2012 BBC Young Musician of the Year!

februari 2018

1948 – Russian Works for Cello & Piano

Prokofiev’s sonata was written for the great soviet cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. There are many fine recordings of this work on the market already including those by Truls Mørk & Lars Vogt, Pieter Wispelwey & Dejan Lazic and Rostropovich himself. However from the first notes of this performance it becomes clear that this is going to be a performance well worth listening to. These two artists bring out all of the colours in this melodious, neoclassical work as well as the subtle details and were clearly in the zone for this rather special performance. We also get a spontaneous and highly engaging account of the Miaskovsky work in which Laura is sensitively supported by Limonov.

iClassical rating: * * * * *

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JANUARY 2018 – CD of the MONTH – Laura van der Heijden’s debut CD “1948”
Colchester Classics

januari 2018
Colchester Classics

The winner of the BBC Young Musician Competition in 2012, Laura van der Heijden makes her debut recording with music of the Soviet era, inspired by her teachers, and by a deep appreciation of “the immense value of great art, music, and literature in Russian-speaking countries….[I] discovered the link which exists between the ‘Russian soul’ and the spiritual virtue of art”. Laura also writes: “The pieces on this album are in many ways a response to the decree issued by the communist party on the 10th of February 1948, which further restricted composers’ freedom of expression”.

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