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COMPOSERS: Grieg/Sibelius
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36; Intermezzo in A minor; Two Pieces, Op. 77; Four Pieces, Op. 78; Malinconia, Op. 20
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello)Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)
It ought to make sense for a Nordic cellist to present a disc of music by the two most famous Nordic composers, Grieg and Sibelius, but the result is not entirely happy. One problem is that the music on the disc is by no means even. Grieg’s only sonata for cello is a ‘warhorse’ of the repertoire, but the seven short works by Sibelius are less well known and they cannot be hailed as some of his more inspired music.


Grieg wrote his sonata 15 years after his famous Piano Concerto and, as well as sharing the same key, there are thematic references to the earlier work. The sonata is a large, full-blooded, Romantic piece in three movements. The young Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk, who in 1982 was the first Scandinavian to win the Tchaikovsky Competition, gives a high-voltage, impassioned reading which for me is overblown. Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s piano threatens to overwhelm the cello with a particularly close balance that heightens his tendency at times to pound the keys. Sibelius’s ‘Devotion’ from Op. 77 is striking for its harmonic shifts, but I wonder if the Op. 20 Malinconia was really recorded at the same sessions, because the sound balance is markedly different. Annette Morreau