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Son of a cellist father (who gave his first lessons) and pianist mother, Truls Mørk went in his late teens to the Edsberg Institute of Music in Stockholm to study with Frans Helmerson. Helmerson was frequently absent on concert tours and Mørk remembers this period as one of intense practice and discussion about music with fellow students between cello lessons spread weeks apart. He later took lessons from Heinrich Schiff, but having always been fascinated by the Russian school of cello playing—epitomised by the vibrantly colourful performances of Rostropovich—went to Moscow to learn from Rostropovich pupil Natalia Shakhovskaya.

As well as a certain commitment to teaching, chamber music features significantly in Mørk’s portfolio; he makes regular festival appearances and is the founder of the International Chamber Music Festival in Stavanger, Norway.

Mørk’s playing on record reveals a sensitive and versatile musician, with a particular sense of delicacy and space that counterpoises an undeniably powerful tone. He dislikes continuous, even-paced vibrato (which he attributes to German style), preferring a variable employment of the device for colouration of tone, attributing this to the Russian school. This malleable approach works to particularly good effect in the Haydn C major Concerto (1991), which has lightness but also a sense of shape and interest. The slow movement, which can often sound dull or sugary, is rather exquisitely spiced. Mørk’s modern style is sufficiently flexible to allow a quasi-period-instrument sonority, and it is worth noting the separated and short-slurred bowing patterns from both soloist and orchestra, which develop a great sense of energy.

In Chopin’s G minor Sonata (1996) Mørk adapts his style to create not a stereotypically dense Romantic sound, but one full of space and delicate, clean-cut beauty in which the piano and cello lines speak with authority but clarity. There are some well-judged portamenti in the first movement and varied applications of vibrato. Brahms’s Op. 38 Sonata (1988) is included here as another example of Mørk in established repertoire, but A Glass Bead Game (1981) by contemporary Norwegian composer Olav Anton Thommessen shows a much more inventive facet to Mørk’s playing as he provides a clear, almost ethereal sound above Thommessen’s initially dark and brooding textures. This small representation of Mørk’s increasingly impressive discography shows his versatility as a very refined and thoughtful modern artist.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

Role: Classical Artist 
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