It's only occasionally that a musical partnership produces more than the sum of its parts. But with Truls MÃ¿rk and Lars Vogt, cello and piano, their duo seems blessed in heaven. Their recital on Monday night was one of the most rewarding I've heard in a long time.
The cello is not an easy instrument to wow the crowds; the repertoire is relatively limited. The concert began with the first "real" sonata for cello, although rightly described by Beethoven as being for piano and cello. Nevertheless, Beethoven's F major, Op 5 heralds a new beginning even if its layout of movements retains vestiges of the trio sonata.
In its mysteriously meandering Adagio introduction, MÃ¿rk and Vogt as good as announced that this early work is a great deal more adventurous than it's usually presumed to be. While MÃ¿rk maintained a wonderfully straightforward clean line, Vogt brought out the extraordinary instability of metre, something particularly original and not usually associated with such early Beethoven.
MÃ¿rk and Vogt (on short stick) marvellously contained their energies leading up to the explosive beginning of the Allegro, where the true character of the work is revealed: a mini-concerto for piano. This movement is long and, for the pianist, particularly demanding in its fast passage work.
But Vogt's evenness of articulation was so sure that the repeat of the exposition - a rare occurrence - was most welcome. Time and again, in this and the last movement, the playing revealed marvellous teamwork, agreement on the shaping of phrases, but never a sense of predictability, Vogt, in particular, able to point a note or chord, changing the perspective with fractional use of rubato.
In Prokofiev's Sonata, MÃ¿rk came into his own bringing to the opening Andante a dark, rich sound from his Montagnana cello, then amazing in the brittle, good humoured Scherzo with big spread chords, Vogt and he ending effortlessly together in wonderful thrown-away effervescence.
In the Adagio movement of Schumann's Op 70, MÃ¿rk again brought a beautiful sound to these big, arching phrases that can too easily sound sentimental. Schumann's Allegro, like the Beethoven, exploded into action, MÃ¿rk now on full throttle, so keenly judging the dynamic build, measuring his gradations of sound, but never playing to the gallery.
Could the final work, Brahms's F major sonata, bring more revelations? Indeed, yes. MÃ¿rk was my choice for Radio 3's Building a Library of Brahms's two sonatas in 1996; now the playing is even stronger. Great surges of sound swirled between them, Vogt expansive, recalling the D minor concerto, MÃ¿rk letting out the stops with playing both powerful and tender of such imagination, but revealing so subtly the musical balance between them. An immensely satisfying evening.Reuse content