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Shostakovich: Cello Concertos
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Digital Booklet: Shostakovich: Cello Concertos
Digital Booklet: Shostakovich: Cello Concertos
This is the premiere recording of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under their new artistic director Vasily Petrenko.
Vasily Petrenko is renowned as a star conductor of the younger generation and one of the foremost interpreters of Shostakovich's symphonies.
Truls Mørk is one of the most respected and prestigious cellists playing today, forged by a reputation of fierce intensity and grace in performances throughout the world. A committed performer of contemporary music, Mørk gave the UK premiere of Rautavaara's cello concerto Towards the Horizon and whose recording on Ondine won both the Gramophone and ICMA Awards.
Shostakovich's cello concertos were written for Mstislav Rostropovich during the 50s and 60s. Besides dashing virtuosity, the concertos also include substantial symphonic elements.
'The sheet strength of Mork's musical character sustains the listener...The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra is magnificent. Those collecting Vasily Petrenko's symphony cycle on Naxos will not be surprised at his mastery of Shostakovich's orchestral colour, sometimes rich and sonorous, at other times distressingly bleak...a highly desirable package.' --International Record Review, May 2014
'Mork extracts greater pathos from the simple folk melody of the Moderato [Cello Concerto No. 1] than before, and Vasily Petrenko draws out a wealth of fascinating detail from the orchestral accompaniment. Such an outstanding reading makes this an obvious front runner in a highly competitive field.' --BBC Music Magazine, July 2014
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Truls Mork (b. 1961) plays with a passion inspired by his Russian studies of his instrument. Mork had earlier recorded the Shostakovich concertos in 1996 with the London Philharmonic conducted by Mariss Jansons. As his reputation and concertizing grew, Mork suffered a central nervous system infection in 2009 which threatened to end his performing career. He returned to performance in 2011 which, on the evidence of this CD, no diminution of his musical and technical gifts.
The Russian-born conductor Vasily Petrenko is the Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as well as chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic. Petrenko is best-known for his recordings of the complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies on the Naxos label with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, a project which has received wide acclaim and which is nearing completion. Petrenko and Mork prove to be ideal collaborators in this performance of the Shostakovich cello concertos.
Composed in 1959, the four-movement concerto no 1 in E flat Major, Op. 107, is the more accessible of the two. It is written for a relatively small ensemble consisting of strings, wind, a single horn, tympani, and celesta. The brief opening movement consists largely of a brisk, taut march with interplay between the soloist and individual orchestral instruments, particularly the horn. The remaining three movements are connected and include two meditative slow movements followed by a dancelike rapid finale on a folk theme. The work shows a wide emotional range with frequent quick changes in mood for both the cellist and the orchestra. Mork plays with passion and athleticism in the many double stops and frequent use of harmonics.
The three-movement concerto n. 2 in g minor, composed in 1966 also displays a wide emotional and musical range. Overall, this concerto is much harsher and more dissonant than its predecessor with a frequently sardonic, mocking tone. The finale of this 36 minute work is an unusually lengthy 17 minutes and it tends to wander. The work opens with a meditative largo featuring the solo cello. The movement gradually works to a highly emotional and full climax for soloist and full orchestra highlighted by a dialogue between the cello and an insistent, booming bass drum which receives a convincing performance here. The second movement begins as a scherzo but soon, with a drum and horn fanfare, moves into the lengthy finale which assumes many musical moods over its duration. There is a lengthy somewhat spare interchange of themes between the soloist and various instrumental combinations before the music picks up in intensity towards the end. It works slowly to a quiet, meditative close, in the spirit of the opening of the piece. The second concerto becomes more impressive with repeated hearings.
It is valuable to have the opportunity to get to better know Shostakovich's cello concertos through the emotional collaboration between Mork and Petrenko on this CD. The recording encourages me to explore Petrenko's cycle of Shostakovich's symphonies. This CD will appeal to lovers of Shostakovich, including those who know other recordings of these concertos. It will also appeal to listeners who want to get to know 20th Century music in all its variety. Richard Whitehouse wrote the musically-informative liner notes. The Naxos label kindly provided me with a review copy of this CD.
Total Time: 64:59
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