The profoundly moving, elegiac lyricism of Elgar and the wistful charm and brilliance of Tchaikovsky are on full display in this irresistible new release from Pentatone played with consummate virtuosity by the German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Andrew Manze. Composed at the end of the First World War, Elgar's powerful Cello Concerto in E minor is one of his best-loved and most deeply-felt works. The soloist's wrenching chords which open the work announce a mood of profound resignation and loss - gone is the youthful swagger of his earlier works, replaced instead with lonely introspection and longing, especially in theRead more sublimely beautiful Adagio. The cello is given free rein in the vigorous final movement but the opening mood prevails as an anguished outburst from the cello brings the work to a close. No such dejection hangs over Tchaikovsky's delightful Variations on a Rococo Theme which ooze elegance, ineffable charm and daring displays of technical brilliance. While the Pezzo capriccioso finds Tchaikovsky in a more restrained mood, with the Nocturne and Andante Cantabile he wears his romantic heart full on his sleeve. The great Russian writer Leon Tolstoy is said to have wept when he heard the Andante Cantabile and its sumptuous theme shows Tchaikovsky's unerring gift for haunting melodies. It remains a special gem in the repertoire. The cellist Johannes Moser is no stranger to these works. Winner of the top prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, he was also awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Variations on a Rococo Theme. Described by Gramophone as "one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists" and by the LA Times as a musician who "...connects with the audience in a way that only great artists do", this is Moser's third recording for Pentatone.
This is a most unusual account of the Elgar Concerto, one that’s both musically gripping and recorded at relatively close quarters. And again in the Rococo Variations of Tchaikovsky, Moser offers a performance that combines sensitivity, agility and brilliance, while Manze and the Suisse Romande Orchestra are consistently on the ball. Altogether a wonderful CD, then, both major works granted recordings that are among the finest we’ve heard in recent years.