Lutosławski Cello Concerto; Dutilleux Tout un monde Iointain
Johannes Moser (cello); Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Søndergård
Pentatone PTC 5186 689 53:52 mins
This disc tells several stories, beginning with a pair of composers, who from opposite sides of the Iron Curtain became not only two of the most important voices in late 20th-century music but two of the most fastidious as well. The cello concertos of both Polish composer Witold Lutosławski and French composer Henri Dutilleux were both written for Mstislav Rostropovich, who gave both works their premieres in 1970. And although Lutosławski disavowed programmatic – still less political – meaning in his music, Galina Vishnevskaya (married to Rostropovich) may have had a point when she called his Cello Concerto ‘the story of a 20th-century Don Quixote’. It’s hard not to agree when hearing Johannes Moser, who has made this work (and the Dutilleux) a cornerstone of his repertoire; playing with depth and naturalness but above all a sense of theatre, he shapes an animated performance together with Thomas Søndergård and the Berlin orchestra.
With its allusions to the poetry of Charles Baudelaire, Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain is perhaps more mystical, and Moser allows it to unfold with hypnotic beauty. His cello tone has warmth, but can be sinewy or otherworldly when required, and he also tells a story in his lively programme notes, which articulate many truths about these important works.