Schumann • Bloch • Bruch

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COMPOSERS: Schumann • Bloch • Bruch
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Truls Mork – Schumann Cello Concerto
WORKS: Cello Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Truls Mork; Radio France PO/Paavo Jarvi
CATALOGUE NO: 545 6642


Performances of Schumann’s elusive Cello Concerto tend to fall into two camps: those by cellists who would like it to be a grand, rhetorical concerto and those who accept its original title as a ‘concert piece’, a searching fantasy or ballad. In the former category, Janos Starker’s (RCA) is a sombre, heroic example, while Heinrich Schiff (Philips) gleams with virile force. In the second, Pieter Wispelwey’s (Channel) is typically thoughtful and Christophe Coin’s with Herreweghe (HM) has the finest example of flexible ensemble. Truls Mørk is a powerful cellist in every sense, and could have gone down the heroic route and got away with it. But he is too sensitive to the work’s subtlety to choose an easy way. This is a luminous, often introverted reading of considerable elegance. There’s a wonderfully veiled quality to the opening and the slow movement has an aching tenderness. Occasionally he is let down by the orchestra: there’s a straightedged heaviness to the some of the accompaniment which intrudes on the serene space Mørk creates. Most impressive is the third movement where his lively approach is never at the expense of beauty of sound: he achieves a soaring resonance in the highest registers and edgy precision in the fast quaver passages. Only Steven Isserlis’s inspired 1996 recording (RCA) can better this, buoyed along by a febrile energy and Isserlis’s unique intimacy with Schumann’s musical language. Mørk’s readings of Bruch’s Kol nidrei and Bloch’s Schelomo are as poignant and beautifully executed as one would expect, though Schelomo lacks the fiery anguish of Yo-Yo Ma’s account (Sony). Helen Wallace