The famous Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk plays Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under English conductor Edward Gardner. Recorded in Concertgebouw on January 22, 2017.
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
♪ Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85 (1919)
i. Adagio – Moderato
ii. Lento – Allegro molto
iv. Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio
Truls Mørk, cello
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Edward Gardner
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, January 22, 2017
Edward Elgar's Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, from the year 1919, is the last major work the composer penned (a Third Symphony remained in draft form at his death in 1934). While the instrumental forces remain basically equivalent to those used in the Violin Concerto, Elgar has amplified the tender, searching intimacy of that earlier work to such a degree that one might call the Cello Concerto not just introspective but searing and almost ascetic. It is an exceedingly complex but immediately touching work that makes a fitting epilogue to Elgar's lifetime in music.
The Concerto is poured into a four-movement mold, yet still takes only about half an hour to perform – far less than any of Elgar's other large instrumental works. This restraint is mirrored by remarkably transparent orchestration. The work begins with four bars of solo cello recitative that firmly outline the home key of E minor. The subsequent Moderato entrance of the orchestra offers little immediate support for that key, really winding down to the tonic only after six bars of restless 9/8 melody built on a single rhythmic cell. During the 12/8 middle section Elgar makes good use of the contrast between E minor and E major. A recapitulation of the opening is made, but soon enough the movement has dissolved into a handful of uncertain pizzicati.
Elgar brings back the opening recitative, much altered (and buoyantly beginning where the first movement's pizzicati left off), to begin the following Scherzo. After twice pleading with the orchestra to join its cause, the cello finally rouses the group into an eighth note driven perpetual motion (Allegro molto). Elgar paints a miniature portrait of his own very characteristic lyric style in the relatively brief E flat major second theme.
A wonderful melody in B flat major is sung by the soloist throughout the Adagio third movement. Here Elgar's indebtedness to Schumann, the slow movement of whose own cello concerto also employs this song without words approach, is clearly evident. The life span of this one melodic strand is a bare 60 bars, yet it conveys deeper passion than do five times that many bars of the composer's earlier music. The movement ends on the dominant, paving the way for an attacca opening of the Finale.
After initially falling in with the B flat major of the Adagio, the Finale makes an eight-bar move back to its rightful E minor tonal center. The main idea of the movement (marked, like so many of the composer's favorite thoughts, "nobilmente") is given out first by the soloist in half-recitative and then, after a rude tutti interruption and a brief pause, by the entire ensemble, Allegro non troppo. A second theme recalls both the G major tonality and the impish sentiment of the Scherzo movement. As the Finale draws near its finish, Elgar undertakes an extended and very moving reminiscence: first on the melody of the Adagio movement and then reaching back to the recitative that began the entire half-hour journey. Two terse chords re-energize the movement's fast-twitch muscle fiber, and 16 bars later the curtain comes down.
Source: Blair Johnston (allmusic.com)
Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk is particularly noted for his romantic, emotional approach. His parents were professional musicians; his father was a cellist, and his mother a pianist. His parents taught him first, trying him on the piano and violin before John Mørk decided to teach Truls his own instrument, the cello. Truls liked the instrument because of its larger size, and insisted on starting his studies with the Bach Cello Suite No. 1 and the Brahms E minor Cello Sonata. "This turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be", he says, but he kept working at it. He says his father did not push him for fear that he would practice too much and become a musician.
At the age of 17, Mørk began studying with Frans Helmerson. Later he studied with Austrian cellist Heinrich Schiff, then in Moscow with Natalia Shakhovskaya, a pupil of Mstislav Rostropovich, whom Mørk had admired for his broad range of color and his flexible, melodic use of vibrato. Mørk dislikes the German style of even vibrato, which, he says, drains the music of its vitality.
In 1982 at the age of 21, Mørk became the first Scandinavian to win the International Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition. He also won the Naumberg Competition in New York in 1986, the Cassado Cello Competition in Florence in 1983, and the UNESCO Prize at the European Radio-Union Competition in Bratislava.
His international touring career commenced in 1989 when he was selected to travel with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under Mariss Jansons on their 1994 North American tour. Since then he has appeared with many of the world's best-known orchestras and conductors, in both evergreen concertos and in new works by composers such as Pavel Haas, Krzysztof Penderecki, Hafliði Hallgrímsson, and Einojuhani Rautavaara.
Mørk is also an active chamber musician and appears frequently in festivals throughout the world. He was the founder of the International Chamber Music Festival in Stavanger, which he directed for its first 13 years.
Mørk plays a rare 1723 Domenico Montagnana cello purchased for him by the SR Bank.
Source: Joseph Stevenson (allmusic.com)
Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.2 – Truls Mørk, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Francois Xavier Roth