Having won three major prizes in one year Torleif Thedéen emerged onto the international stage to become one of the most popular cellists of his generation, appearing regularly as soloist or chamber player at numerous prestigious venues and with many illustrious colleagues. In 1986 he began recording for BIS; a decade later his release of Shostakovich cello concertos won the Cannes Classical Award. His philosophy on performing music is based upon a private, objective absorption and comprehension of the work in question that results in a highly subjective public account of it.
Thedéen’s sizable discography represents much standard cello repertoire as well as a number of less established twentieth-century works. J.S. Bach’s solo suites (2000) are given a mainstream modern treatment with a rather generalised incorporation of period style, including a relatively restrained use of vibrato and light bow action within consciously-crafted phrase-shapes. Dvořák’s Op. 104 Cello Concerto with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (2002) is also a modern rendition, conventional in most respects but particularly commendable for the hauntingly remote D major theme in the first movement. Equally effective is Brahms’s Sonata, Op. 38 with Roland Pöntinen (2010), although listeners may either approve the chaste treatment of the first movement or criticise it for a slight want of passion. The middle movement is similarly restrained, and the fugal finale perhaps a little dry and academic, although this is a very tidy interpretation. From a 2009 recording Sibelius’s ‘Lulu Waltz’ contains much elegant playing, whilst his Malinconia displays a variety of colours and textures: in the open sonorities Sibelius’s rather rustic (even primitive) sound-world is evoked effectively.
Thedéen’s aptitude for twentieth-century music (including works by Hindemith, Webern, Schnittke and Sandström in his discography) was indicated early in his recording career by a superbly crafted Britten Cello Suite No. 1 (1989) which, while drawing the listener into a private, intense sound-world, simultaneously demonstrates virtuosity and technical excellence, especially in harmonics and col legno effects. Equally fine is a performance of Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (1998).
It is difficult to do full justice to Thedéen’s broad repertoire here, but it is hoped that these chosen recordings represent his qualities as a recording artist and cellist of some significance.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)
Role: Classical Artist