Sibelius: Complete music for cello and piano

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Complete music for cello and piano
PERFORMER: Torleif Thedéen (cello)Folke Gräsbeck (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-817
Of the handful of fine cellists to come out of Scandinavia in recent years, Torleif Thedéen has perhaps the rarest talent: he may not have the power of, say, Truls Mørk or Frans Helmerson, but his musical subtlety, his intimate control of the line and his luminous, unforced sound must be heard.

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There have been many releases of early and rediscovered Sibelius repertoire in the last few years, and this boasts premiere recordings of four early pieces: graceful, winding miniatures, showing an impressive fluency of technique. Particularly touching is the tiny ‘Lulu Waltz’.

Thedéen plays like a dream, in more ways than one: the recorded sound has at times a ghostly veil on it, giving the sense of something distant, and his own introversion sets these ‘forgotten’ melodies off to their best advantage.

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The later pieces have all the grand, sombre vision of the mature Sibelius. From the arresting piano question in Cantique, to the extraordinary modal arches of Devotion, this is music ‘from my very heart’, as the composer wrote. Thedéen manages to sustain intensity over the extended reaches without ever sounding relentless. Mørk’s account of these and the searching Malincolia (on Virgin) is hard-edged and earth-bound in comparison. Helen Wallace