Cello concertos (Pentatone/Myrios)
★★/★★★★ (out of five)
Mstislav Rostropovich commissioned more than 100 works for his instrument and performed some of them more than once. Aside from the two Shostakovich concertos and the symphony-concerto by Prokofiev, only the Britten Cello Symphony and the concertos by Lutoslawki and Dutilleux get heard much these days.
The latter pair are performed by Johannes Moser on a new Pentatone release and the gulf in quality between them is striking. Lutoslawski opens with several minutes of cello meditation, as if he has bought the complete TM package or forgotten he booked an orchestra. The concerto does not get much more communicative, dickering away at an attempted dialogue without ever achieving Luto’s trademark smoothness of line.
Henri Dutilleux’s tout un monde lointain is in a different class. Although contemplative at the outset, Dutilleux has such an easeful style that the ear is happy to be drawn into his playful, wispy ways. Slava adored this concerto. I am not sure that Moser gets enough fun out of it; the Berlin radio orchestra are a bit recessed on this recording.
I got more pleasure this week out of Maximilian Hornung’s pairing of the second Shostakovich concerto with a five-movement concerto by the Georgian Sulkhan Tsintsadze. Both works date from 1966 and both leave the soloist a huge degree of expressive liberty. Tsintsadze is very good at disguising folk roots in his music and Shostakovich, by this time, is an unassailable master. This is quite a cello feast. On balance, I prefer Hornung’s account of his second concerto to Slava’s in Boston, and that’s no small compliment. The orchestra here is DSO Berlin, conductor Andris Poga. Enjoy.