Politiken: 2 February 2014

Cellist Has a Fight with the Devil!

 

“Toke Møldrup was sharp and focused as a soloist in new American cello concerto by composer Geoffrey Gordon, inspired by Thomas Mann's "Doctor Faustus”

 

Toke Møldrup and Copenhagen Philharmonic; Cond. : Rory MacDonald; Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Friday, Jan. 31/2014

 

"It's online where people get together and often sweet music appears. And it takes place not only on various dating sites, but also on a serious social network like LinkedIn. It was here that the Danish cellist, Toke Møldrup, met the American composer, Geoffrey Gordon. The music that came out of this meeting can hardly be called “sweet,” but rather it was an intense experience, as it was performed at its premiere in the ”Galaxy” in Værløse on Thursday and again on Friday in the Academy Concert Hall .

 

Sweet music is also not exactly what one would expect from a work that has been created on the basis of the Danish musician’s and the American composer’s common fascination with one of world literature's truly heavy novels, Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus...

 

The novel's protagonist, Adrian Leverkühn, gets 24 years of genius in exchange for his soul. Therefore, it was exactly 24 minutes of dramatic music for cello and orchestra, given its world premiere by the Copenhagen Philharmonic—which began the work providing a mysterious, shiny backdrop through which the woodwinds rose up like bubbles in a chaotic, creative, primordial soup, before dramatic percussion eruptions and brass-crested waves stole the show.

 

As the orchestra calmed down (about a third of the way through the work), and the music became more static, it felt natural to hear it as the concerto’s response to the idea of a slow middle movement in a classic three-movement solo concerto, like so many composers before Geoffrey Gordon have done. The soloist was given space to unfold and breathe before irresistible upward movement again put the music back in the hands of the orchestra. But the passionate, virtuoso, high tension solo effort the cellist now embarked on certainly was not the traditional finale we might have expected. Rather, with inspiration from Mann in mind, this Mephistopheles even came limping back onto the stage, with a claim on the composer's soul sticking up as signed contract from inside the Devil’s coat pocket!

 

Toke Møldrup performed the concerto with advanced technical skill, featuring tight concentration and superior musicality. Not every day does a new cello concerto see the light of day, especially not one played with the intensity of this Danish musician.”

 

-Thomas Michelsen

(translated from the original Danish)

 

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Gordon: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (after Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus)
Gordon: Duo Sonata
Gordon: Winterleben
Gordon: FATHOMS: Five Impressions of Shakespeare's The Tempest (with Prelude) for cello and piano
Gordon: Crucifixus (for SSAATTBB and solo cello)
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