I have loved the Dvorak Cello Concerto ever since I first heard it several decades ago. It offers deliciously harmonious romanticism without apology--indeed Dvorak himself remained a romantic throughout his life. But great musical craftmanship and self-confident artistry, as well as exalted poetic inspiration, were also among his attributes, all of which combine to create this masterwork of cello music that blends the ethnic flavors of Bohemia with the universal languages of human emotion and imagination. But I hardly need to make the case for a work which has earned a solid place in the musical life of the world over the past hundred years and more.
The question in my mind upon ordering the CD was whether a Scandinavian cellist completely unknown to me, along with an orchestra hardly more familiar, would be able to do the work justice. On my first hearing I got a clear and convincing YES to that question. Mr. Mork serves up a fully empathetic and technically accomplished performance with the great-sounding orchestral support of the Oslo Philharmonic under the capable and inspired direction of Mariss Jansons--a well-known and highly reputed maestro. Moreover, the pure digital recording [DDD] made by the Virgin Classics engineers in the Konserthus in Oslo during May 12-14 of 1992 fully captures the sonic beauty of the work. In short, the recording is outstanding in every way.
But does it compete successfully with other fine recordings available? Perhaps the Rostropovich take with the Berlin Philharmonic led by Karajan, a remastered analog recording on the DGG label, is the most highly touted among several fine recordings around. While Rostropovich does display his characteristic passion and technical brilliance on that recording, I personally prefer the Mork CD. David Hurwitz seems to prefer the later digital Rostropovich recording with the Boston Symphony led by Ozawa, one which I have not heard. Still, I'm inclined to stick with the Mork recording, perhaps because I feel that he allows Dvorak's personality to dominate, whereas Rostropovich imposes more of himself upon the music.
In any case, my assessment of the present CD is favorable to a very high degree, and I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone who loves the concerto and wishes to have an outstanding recording of it.