Reviews : Elgar & Tchaikovsky - Johannes Moser, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Andrew Manze

Johannes Moser

Johannes Moser: Elgar and Tchaikovsky CD review – mercurial and impulsive
The Guardian
March 23, 2017

The two major cello works paired up here by Johannes Moser deal with nostalgia in ways that are poles apart. It’s Tchaikovsky’s sunny Variations on a Rococo Theme that comes off best. Moser plays the composer’s original version, and sets off at a brisk trot – rococo is not going to be a byword for prissy. But the lightness is balanced by a gently yearning lyricism, and he shapes the minor-key variation into one long, seamless line. The playful exchanges between cello and orchestra in the next variation are beautifully handled; throughout, Andrew Manze and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are supportive at every turn. They and Moser also do a lovely job of the three short Tchaikovsky pieces that fill up the disc. Elgar’s dark Cello Concerto brings a performance from Moser that is mercurial, imaginative and, unsurprisingly, more obviously heart-on-sleeve, but the finale feels too impulsive to knit the whole thing together.

May Editors Choice - ELGAR Cello Concerto TCHAIKOVSKY Variations on a Rococo Theme
May 2017

A most unusual account of the Elgar Concerto, one that’s both musically gripping and recorded at relatively close quarters. The first minutes command immediate attention, Johannes Moser’s handling of the opening chords confident and tonally full-bodied, the ascending solo scales that lead to the principal melody haltingly tiered, the melody itself tenderness personified, slowing subtly before the strings take the lead and Moser rises boldly to the crest of the phrase. The full orchestra’s response is both heroic and uplifting. The second subject finds Moser and the desks of the Suisse Romande playing into each other’s hands, with flexibility to spare (more so than on the majority of Moser’s rivals), the main body of the Allegro molto second movement, taken very briskly, pure quicksilver, again with keen inter-instrumental dialogue much in evidence. The Adagio positively aches, Moser achieving his affect by varying vibrato from an intense, pulsing glow to a cooler, tremor-free line. The finale is extremely dramatic, whether in the heavily weighted fugato-style music from 4'39" (great brass here) or the melancholic episodes at the heart of the movement (starting from around 6'21"), where Moser, although playing from the heart, never sentimentalises the music, and Manze is obviously of a like mind. The rapt return of the Adagio (9'12") and the defiant restatement of the concerto’s opening chords that follow will likely take your breath away... 

Boston Modern Orchestra Project plays Steven Stucky and Johannes Moser plays Elgar 
February 4, 2017

Who says the book is closed on new interpretations of Elgar’s beautiful, nostalgic Cello Concerto? Certainly not Johannes Moser, who turns in a sweeping performance of the piece with Andrew Manze and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) on Pentatone.

Nothing in Moser’s performance comes across as ho-hum. He identifies with the music on a very deep level, whether that’s the big, brooding sections in the outer movements or the giddy moments in the spirited, skipping second movement. As for the lovely, songful third, it glows. Throughout, Moser’s playing is intense, well-calibrated, and focused on what critic Virgil Thomson called the Grand Line.