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ClassicsOnline Home » SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Cello Concerto No. 1 / BRITTEN, B.: Symphony for Cello and Orchestra (Moser, West German Radio Symphony, Inkinen)
Not just a pretty face
CDs with handsome artists on the cover usually put me off. One suspects they are promoted for their looks rather than their talent. But Johannes Moser isn't just a pretty face. He is a technically well grounded, inspired artist with a great range both of expression and styles.
While the West Germans in this recording seem to me a bit bloodless, Moser makes up for this shortcoming by offering a very deep-felt Shostakovich rendition that squeezes the life out of his instrument at times. The Britten symphony is less dramatic, but no less heartfelt.
Johannes Moser is an artist to watch closely as he develops, but I sometimes wonder if he has anything left to learn at all--he seems like such an accomplished old master already.more....
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.more....
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SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Cello Concerto No. 1 / BRITTEN, ...