Johannes Moser: Dvorák & Lalo Cello Concertos

Performed with PKF-Prague Philharmonia and conducted by Jakub Hrůša.

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Lalo
LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Johannes Moser: Dvorák & Lalo Cello Concertos
WORKS: Cello Concertos; plus Tchaikovsky: Pezzo Capriccioso in B minor
PERFORMER: Johannes Moser (cello); PKF-Prague Philharmonia/Jakub Hrůša
CATALOGUE NO: PTC 5186 488 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Though still in his thirties, Johannes Moser has clocked up no fewer than 15 major repertoire recordings, mainly on Hänssler Classics. For this Dvoπák Concerto he’s teamed up with, appropriately, the Prague Philharmonic under Jakub Hrůša. Despite the latter’s rather sluggish tempo for the opening, Moser gives us an exciting, high-tension ride with an impressive sense of structure. He’s a musician of alacrity, power and style: virtuosic passages benefit from his fleet effortlessness.

What’s missing in the first cadenza and second movement, though, is that penetrating tenderness and almost visionary inwardness one finds in the very greatest performances – thinking of Truls Mørk, Yo-Yo Ma and of Mstislav Rostropovich at his best. The airy delicacy and sweetness we have here doesn’t quite find the emotional undertow. Moser is not helped in the slow movement by some very loud, congested orchestral sound, though I love the feisty horn timbre. It’s only after a lively, rhythmically exacting finale that he achieves luminous transcendence in Dvoπák’s masterly coda. That extraordinary long cello note that presages the end really does feel endless, opening a window onto radiance; beautifully choreographed, too, by Hrůša.

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Moser grasps Lalo’s somewhat lily-livered Concerto by the scruff, delivering a performance of enormous flair and effervescence. His impatience in the volatile first movement is effective, and the final Allegro vivace is dispatched with crisp buoyancy. Outstanding is the lovely Intermezzo, where he makes a fine contrast between its introverted, gritty slow music and episodes of whirling, airborne dance. Helen Wallace