The Strad Issue: January 2007
Musicians: Truls Mørk (cello) Kathryn Stott (piano)

With a disc entitled ‘Nocturne’, melancholy is likely to be the prevailing mood, yet there is variety in Truls Mørk and Kathryn Stott’s programme thanks mostly to the original works for cello and piano, notably the upbeat finale of the sonata and the Polonaise brillante. Mørk offers a judicious equilibrium between high voltage passion and more reflective lyrical moments, framing the heart-rending slow melody of the sonata’s third movement with the well-delineated rustic energy of its Scherzo and finale. In fact more than many performances, Mørk hints at folk influence in the melodies, particularly in the finale, where the thirds of the cello part anticipate Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. The Introduction and Polonaise has frequent airings but these artists have captured Chopin’s idiomatic language astutely, pointing harmonies without disrupting the melodic flow. It is the subtle art of underlining without using a joined-up line; too much ruins the whole story.

Mørk and Stott continue the tradition established by Feuermann and Piatigorsky and taken up more recently by Pieter Wispelwey of transcribing Chopin keyboard works for cello. Their arrangement of the reflective E minor Nocturne at the start of the disc lies comfortably, with the cantabile melody subtly delivered and enhanced by a warmly recorded piano. Equally Stott captures a beautiful fluidity in the arpeggiated bass, over which the melody on the cello inclines so sweetly. The stormy temperament of the C sharp minor Nocturne is compelling, by turns fiery and eloquently poignant. While cellists once complained that their instrument had far too few Romantic works, it seems that once you borrow from other sources the choice is endless – this selection is particularly rich in jewels.    

Joanne Talbot