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Britten, Shostakovich: Cello Concertos / Johannes Moser, cello

Album Summary

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Concerto for Cello no 1 in E flat major, Op. 107
>Britten, Benjamin : Simple Symphony for Strings, Op. 4
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Following his extraordinary, critically acclaimed recording of concertos by Martinu, Hindemith, and Honegger, the charismatic Johannes Moser returns with a stunning new release, featuring two of the most distinguished 20th century cello concertos. Both works were originally composed for the great Mstislav Rostropovich. Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 was premiered in October 1959, and is characterized by vitality, humor and virtuosity. Britten's "Symphony for Cello and Orchestra" op 68 was premiered in 1964, with Rostropovich once again as soloist. This new recording continues Moser's stunning exploration of 20th century cello concertos while at the same time building upon his masterful interpretations of cello sonatas by the same featured composers, Shostakovich and Britten.

Gramophone Magazine
[Moser is] a truthful guide, hitting timings very close to the composer's own, and keeps a judicious balance between discipline and feeling. In the long cadenza he typically finds time for thoughtful expression, not just a display of technical skills. The darker resonance that envelops this performance comes largely from the more mellow orchestral playing.

International Record Review, June 2012
Moser's formidable technique surmounts every obstacle with apparent ease...but conductor Pietari Inkinen is seldom convincing...Moser's reading of the Shostakovich cello concerto is again tautly argued and concise, with classy orchestral support and an especially good solo horn player.

BBC Music Magazine, July 2012
Both these virile, confrontational works benefit from [Moser's] terrific energy and impetuous attack. He slices into the Shostakovich at speed...His ringing, acrobatic cadenza and urgent Allegro make this an exciting performance, the equal of any. The WDR Symphony Orchestra have two vital ingredients to bring to the Britten Cello Symphony: fabulous horns and lively timpani.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Kölner Philharmonie (02/25/2011-03/02/2011).



Reviews

Aggressive Shostakovich
I am always curious to find out what a talented player finds in Shostakovich and is able to bring out, and in that respect Johannes Moser has something that he definitely wants you to hear. The first movement of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 is aggressive right from the beginning…the speed and attack of Mr. Moser on the cello is at first unsettling, but upon a second hearing adds a gripping tension to the underlying march music that is central to the movement. The second movement demonstrates some fine French horn work from the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the thin expressive nature of the music produced definitely conveys uncertainty and a questioning emotional state. The third movement, featuring some very expressive cello playing from Mr. Moser, is also performed quite well, with what seems to be just the right amount of “edginess”. The aggression returns in the final and fourth movement, and the tempo and energy are consistent throughout. This is an interesting interpretation.

The other piece on the disc is Britten’s Cello Symphony. The first movement starts off with dark, angry sounding music, as if Britten still has more to say at a fundamental about the horrors of war. But there is something else here – something perhaps mythological as hinted at in the liner notes – and it requires some virtuoso level cello playing. The average cellist simply cannot do what is required, and Mr. Moser is certainly up to the task. The second movement is shorter and less dark, as the work moves in a lighter leaning direction. The third movement, featuring some solid timpani work and accompaniment from the orchestra, has a distinctive Russian-like feel to it (in a Shostakovich kind of way. It’s hard to explain…you just have to hear it), and it would certainly have been a treat to hear Rostropovich play this piece as it was dedicated to him. This work is well paired with the Shostakovich, and makes for an interesting listening experience.

If Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto is to your liking, then this recording offers an interesting and worthwhile interpretation. And the Britten makes for a fine companion. So if you like this sort of thing, then this disc is certainly worth adding to your collection.

Submitted on 03/21/12 by KlingonOpera 
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Works Details

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Concerto for Cello no 1 in E flat major, Op. 107
  • Performer: Johannes Moser (Cello)
  • Conductor: Pietari Inkinen
  • Ensemble: WDR Symphony Orchcestra Colgne
  • Notes: Kölner Philharmonie (02/25/2011-03/02/2011)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1959

>Britten, Benjamin : Simple Symphony for Strings, Op. 4
  • Performer: Johannes Moser (Cello)
  • Conductor: Pietari Inkinen
  • Notes: Kölner Philharmonie (02/25/2011-03/02/2011)
  • Running Time: 16 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1963