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S & H Recital Review

Miaskovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov Truls Mørk (cello); Kathryn Stott (piano), Wigmore Hall, 1pm, Monday, January 12th, 2004 (CC)


Truls Mørk is a remarkably gifted cellist whose discography on Virgin Classics attests to a wide-ranging repertoire and a keen intellect. He has recorded both of the major sonatas on offer at this recital (Miaskovsky and Prokofiev), although with different pianists (Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Lars Vogt, respectively). On this occasion, he was partnered by Kathryn Stott whose BIS Schulhoff disc I named as one of my Critic’s Choices for 2003. Together, the pair are due to tour the US, and on the present evidence it will be a great success.

Miaskovsky’s First Cello Sonata is a wonderful work (for a bargain priced version, try Maria Tarasova on Regis). Emerging from the depths, Mørk sang the resonant lines beautifully while Stott projected her part perfectly for the Wigmore’s acoustic. It was evident right from the start that this is a well-matched pair (Stott can play with just as warm a tone as Mørk, which added to the intimate moments). The fiendishly difficult piano part held no perils, while Mørk was able to play with real lyricism.

If the Miaskovsky is well worth getting to know, Prokofiev’s late Cello Sonata in C, Op. 119 (it dates from 1949) is a magnificent pinnacle of the cello repertoire. Alexander Ivashkin’s recording (included in a disc of Prokofiev’s complete works for cello and piano) is the clear modern front-runner, but the pairing of Mørk and Stott heard live was intensely convincing. Stott melted her tone after another resonant opening from Mørk. With the cello’s insistent ‘strumming’, the music had an elemental feel that suited the work’s seriousness of intent. The more shifting and restless passages were rightly disturbing, while the witty sections were Prokofiev through and through. There was an underlying energy that underpinned even the more reposeful moments (take the muted cello over rocking piano accompaniment in the finale, for example). This was very, very memorable.

As a programmed encore, we were treated to a performance of the Vocalise Op. 34 No. 14, by Rachmaninov. Refusing to linger, it was intimate then impassioned.

Truls Mørk’s version of the Bach Solo Cello Suites is due in the Spring. He is clearly a musician of much perception. Without doubt, he will have much to say.

Colin Clarke



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