Part of what makes this particular recording so rewarding is the program. Was that a major impetus behind the project for you, or was there a particular work you wanted to showcase? 

The Kabalevsky sonata is a fairly recent acquisition for us, but it’s one that Olli Mustonen and I both love. We’re so enthusiastic about it – it’s a fantastic piece.

Steven Isserlis Steven Isserlis. Photo © Satoshi Aoyagi

Kabalevsky is such an unknown, and the Russians just hate him because of his political stance. As [the composer] Rodion Shchedrin says, “it’s complicated”. He wasn’t a monster, I don’t think, but I think he did some bad things – but then lots of people did bad things and the music is fabulous. Other than that, I’d always wanted to re-record the Shostakovich sonata. I remember it was all too ‘supervised’ the first time, so I really wanted to do it again.

The Prokofiev BalladeI’ve always been interested in. I learned it a few years ago having always been told it was such a bad piece and I didn’t believe it. Well, at first I did believe it, because I read it through and couldn’t...