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Posted May 16, 2014
Shostakovich CELLO CONCERTOS Truls Mork/Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra & Vasily Petrenko ONDINE
Post-WW2 Soviet music is definitely an acquired taste; before and after Stalin, much of it sounds stunted, cut off as it was from developments in the west, to say nothing of being subjected to bureaucratic censure. When failing to please the critics results, not in bad reviews or empty houses, but penalties ranging from loss of livelihood to imprisonment to possible loss of life, the wonder is that any real creative work got done at all.
Having managed to outlive Stalin, Shostakovich might be thought of as the most successful mid-20th century Russian composer, with a long string of masterpieces to his credit.
His First and Second Cello Concertos, newly recorded by internationally acclaimed cellist, Truls Mork, were originally written for Mstislav Rostropovich and have become part of standard orchestral repertoire. Both pieces are very well served by Mr. Mork’s passionate and virtuosic playing, as well as the sympathetic performance of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by the great Vasily Petrenko.
Congratulations also go out to the engineering staff for the clarity and precision of this recording.
This is NOT an appropriate record for anyone who uses classical music as background for dinner parties or to put their children to sleep. Written under duress, facing both illness and constant political pressure, Shostakovich’s First and Second Cello Concertos convey a sense of grief and longing, brooding and despair that is largely missing from most of today’s music. Music for the dark night of the soul doesn’t go over so well in our have-a-nice-day world.
Highly recommended 9 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano
Posted May 12, 2014
Great performances of these complex works. The two Cello Concertos of Shostakovich are the product of the composer's friendship with Mstislav Rostropovich, one of the greatest cellists of the twentieth century. I have heard the great Norwegian cellist Truls Mork before; most notably in stellar performances of modern concerti by Hallgrimsson and Rautavaara. He is an amazing player with stellar technique and a beautiful sound. The two Shostakovich concerti are right within his comfort zone and these performances are wholly impressive. The first Concerto was written in 1959 and is characterized by a fairly small orchestra and a somewhat spiky, sardonic nature. In fact it is said that the folk song that serves as the basis to the final Allegro con moto was a favorite of Stalin's and is - purposefully - treated by Shostakovich in a very sarcastic and brusque way. (I have played this piece and it is demanding for everyone not just the soloist) In fact it sounded to me like Mork/Petrenko's tempo for this close is faster than what one usually hears but is very exciting for it. The Concerto #2 was written in 1966 and is quite a but different. The orchestra is much larger and the tone of the piece darker; nearly pessimistic. The opening Largo is sad and pensive but the mood is shattered with some outbursts from the winds and percussion. I think a highlight of this work is the military inspired finale, allegretto, with its wildly "out of place" use of horn calls and percussion against declamation from the cello. In the whole Shostakovich oeuvre, these concertos are among his most hard to understand and difficult to assimilate for the listener However, they are masterpieces. As for Mork's performance it is brilliant. He was out of performance a few years ago with illness and he now back to being one of the world's great cellists. I do recommend this disc highly!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.