LUTOSŁAWSKI; DUTILLEUX Cello Concertos (Moser)
Few of the concertante works premiered by Mstislav Rostropovich enjoy repertoire status. Among them, the concertos by Lutosławski and Dutilleux were not only written concurrently but have been coupled often since the Russian’s pioneering accounts more than 40 years ago.
Johannes Moser maintains a keen focus over the eventful trajectory of the Lutosławski – ensuring absolute poise over those flights of fancy that constantly throw the soloist’s rhythmic precision off-kilter before the sardonic entry of the brass; which latter permeate the cello’s speculations during the fractious exchanges of the ‘Four Episodes’ that follow. Many performances rather lose momentum in the Cantilena but Moser neither falters nor sells short this music’s rapt eloquence prior to a looming unison chord on lower strings which launches the finale. Here a violent confrontation is graphically characterised, the Berlin Radio Symphony delivering a pulverising response so the soloist’s desperate final gasps seem more than usually affecting.
If the Dutilleux might be felt to avoid such extremes, its inspiration in the heady fervour of Charles Baudelaire (extracts from whose verse head each movement) confirms otherwise. Moser eschews any emotional uniformity, drawing a capricious response from the interplay between soloist and orchestra in ‘Énigme’ then conveying the sombre plangency of ‘Regard’ to perfection. Nor is the tensile rhetoric of ‘Houles’ at all overstated, making for a seamless transition into the sensuous unease of ‘Miroirs’ which, in its turn, sets up a decisive contrast with the ‘Hymne’, whose startling emergence is cannily paralleled by its teasing evaporation.
Throughout both works, Thomas Søndergård propels the music forwards with a real sense for their vastly different yet equally inevitable destinations. The SACD sound has a convincing overall perspective and Moser’s booklet note ably complements his interpretations. Among previous couplings, that by Rostropovich remains mandatory listening while that by Christian Poltéra offers less demonstrative but hardly less persuasive traversals. Anyone coming afresh to these masterly works, however, should now investigate this new release ahead of all others.