Weinberg, Dutilleux: Cello Concertos

Weinberg, Dutilleux: Cello Concertos

Two contrasting yet complementary concertos from the mid-20th century supply the meaty substance of Edgar Moreau’s latest recording. The phenomenal French cellist, working in harmony with the WDR Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andris Poga, has engaging things to say about Mieczysław Weinberg’s Cello Concerto in C Minor Op. 43 and Tout un monde lointain… (A whole, distant world…) by Henri Dutilleux. Both were performed for the first time by Mstislav Rostropovich, providing Moreau—winner of the Young Soloist Prize at the 2014 Rostropovich Cello Competition—with a handy repertoire hook. “But there’s also something more personal about the choice of pieces,” Moreau reveals to Apple Music Classical. “I am French, like Dutilleux, and my mother, like Weinberg, comes from Polish Jewish ancestry. So these two composers are part of my identity. And I really love these works.” Weinberg’s Cello Concerto was reshaped from a shorter work abandoned during Stalin’s campaign against so-called Formalism in the arts. The composer returned to the manuscript in 1957, four years after the Soviet dictator’s death, and enlarged each of its four movements. Tout un monde lointain…, composed between 1967 and 1970, takes its title and inspiration from a line contained in the 19th-century French author Charles Baudelaire’s revolutionary collection of poems, Les fleurs du mal. Given the exacting technical demands and musical complexity of Tout un monde lointain…, it’s impossible not to smile when Moreau confides that he was “a little child” when he began playing Dutilleux’s score. “As I said, it’s part of my identity! It’s a big piece and very important for the cello repertoire. I always like to mix a famous work with something that people don’t know so well. So that’s the role the Weinberg plays here.” Read on, as Edgar Moreau takes us through both concertos on this arresting album. Cello Concerto in C Minor (Weinberg) “Although the Concerto is pensive at the beginning, it’s an optimistic work. That’s the paradox of Weinberg’s life and of his music, which contains a lot of light, a lot of humor. He escaped the Nazi Holocaust in his native Poland to make a new home in the Soviet Union. And he survived Stalin’s deadly postwar campaign against imaginary Jewish enemies. But he never saw himself as a victim. “There’s a lot of color in this concerto. The way the instruments are used in the second movement sounds almost like Jewish klezmer. Even though it’s an optimistic work, I think you can hear in this passionate klezmer music something of the composer’s musical identity—and maybe his human identity, too.” Tout un monde lointain… (Dutilleux) “There’s a beautiful progression that connects this work’s five movements. The opening movement is very solemn, but there’s something warmhearted about it. And then you have ‘Regard,’ with this klezmer style, followed by the craziness of the cadenza in ‘Houles,’ with the cello becoming more and more present. The final movement is completely crazy in so many ways. And at the end there’s a reference to the first theme from the opening movement. It’s like a circle in the way it’s written. “One of my first teachers was very close to Dutilleux. He told me that he was a perfectionist and very particular about the details in his scores. As a performer, of course, you try to respect the composer’s wishes. And after that, you put your soul, your identity into the music. That’s how I like to do things.”

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