DVOŘÁK; LALO Cello Concertos
At first hearing, this disc suggested admirable directness and some very lyrical phrasing. With rhythmically taut and well-drilled orchestral support under Jakub Hrůša, Johannes Moser projects a full tone with no loss of presence when he ventures among the instrument’s higher reaches. The opening four minutes or so of the Lalo should tell you more or less all you need to know with regard to Moser’s supple approach and the watertight rapport between him and the excellent Prague Philharmonia. The central Intermezzo, so touching in its veiled melancholy, conveys the sort of warming introspection I associate with Pierre Fournier, whereas when Lalo switches to Andantino con moto (very much Symphonie espagnole mode, this), Moser and his accomplices are admirably light and agile.
The Dvořák Concerto enjoys a symphonically conceived account of the orchestral part. Moser’s first entry is strong and confident, and when he goes racing off into the main body of the movement, his playing is lively but without signs of either undue haste or excessive pressure. It’s all so incredibly natural, the second subject as tender as anyone could wish for. Skilfully bowed arpeggios later on really glisten, and that elegiac passage at the first movement’s centre (at 9'19") truly touches the heart. So does the Adagio (with beautifully balanced woodwinds at the outset), while in the finale, which sets out as a bracing jog-trot, Moser makes light of the various technical challenges that Dvořák poses him.
The recorded sound is, like the playing, absolutely top-notch. Rivals in the Dvořák include Alisa Weilerstein (who likes to live dangerously – and, as I’ve previously said in these pages, Jiří Bělohlávek’s predominantly symphonic view of the score provides a powerful but disciplined framework for her spontaneous, tonally full-bodied playing), Truls Mørk and Mariss Jansons (light and felicitous), and Angelica May with Václav Neumann (the slow movement’s cadenza especially affecting). But this new version is up there with the best of them and could happily serve as a credible first choice, at least in the digital stakes.