Prokofiev, Miaskovsky

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Miaskovsky,Prokofiev
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Cello Concerto (plus ‘Symphony-Concerto’ alternative finale)
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello); City of Birmingham SO/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45282 2
From two concertos and a Symphony-Concerto that are all basically the same work, most cellists pick the last version, which Prokofiev worked on with Rostropovich. Here’s a first recorded chance to hedge bets on the finale. The differences, mostly in the second quarter, leave it more lyrical and more diffuse. Neither version resolves the abruptly veering moods at the end. Anyway, Mörk’s poised wit in the ‘usual’ sections is a highlight. He sings out with a lighter touch than Rostropovich’s and keeps the fiendish quick music brilliantly in tune. The acoustic is full and lucid. An ounce more passion and this would earn five stars.

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Rostropovich himself gives it six, from the first sustained note to the ending, to which sarcastic brass give point. Unmissable, despite 1964 sound that survives remastering with overprominent cello and dry ambience intact. The serene, expansive Sonata and the rare Concertino – with a wonderful slow-movement melody and a droll, bassoon-led finale – are superbly delivered but still harder on the ear. Richter appears to be playing through a duvet.

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Then again, choosing the gentle, open-hearted and affecting Miaskovsky is a five-star inspiration. Mørk projects its elegiac lines sensitively, and the quicker episodes go with featherlight orchestral flair. Robert Maycock