DVORAK’S Cello Concerto can be a beast of a work. Too much emphasis on the epic and it tends to don an uneasy arrogance. To much lingering on its sugary sentimentality and it goes limp at the knees.
RSNO/ Truls MØrk
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
* * * *
Avoiding these extremes, but still keeping it alive, is the major challenge facing any cellist and conductor.
In a performance that fell into none of these traps, cellist Truls Mørk and conductor Thomas Søndergård struck a winning partnership. Mørk’s solo performance was driven by genuine affection for the golden lyrical lines, so that the big, effusive moments bore a refined, teasing understatement that magnified their impact.
As for Søndergård, he played a masterly role in making strong structural sense of this musical juggernaut. He rooted out gems of delicate orchestral detail, and in those magical moments where he cut the RSNO down to a whisper, created a sound world that was awash with beautiful soft scents.
It was a performance bound by the integrity of the score, free of rhetoric, and – except for one or two uneasy gear changes – compelling from start to finish.
In Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, superlative attention to detail was again the winning factor. Not just in those lightening solo instrumental touches that spark the characterisations into life, but in the way Søndergård gave pinpoint precision and clarity to Stravinsky’s complex multiple overlays. It would have been a short concert, ending on a mysterious note, had Søndergård not added one of Sibelius’s Historical Scenes as a conclusive encore.