So, if there were ever an award for the sexiest cellist alive, I am pretty sure that Johannes Moser would win by a landslide. There seriously isn’t any competition (although if you can find someone else, let me know). He’s got a great smile, dresses quite well and, as if that weren’t enough, has a killer accent (German). I got to meet him after a recital he gave in Seattle 2 years ago…and needless to say I was smiling profusely when I got the chance to shake his hand.
But this is meant to be a blog about music, not about devilishly attractive performers, even is he is the “Jude Law” of the cello world. In that respect, the German-Canadian cellist has a long future ahead of him…because he’s damn talented. After winning the top prize at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, he has been in high demand every since, and if you’ve ever hear him in person, you’ll understand why. His intensely refined technique, sinfully smooth bow arm and collaborative chamber playing (he and his pianist had an almost symbiotic bond) are all great things, but I have what he says with the music stands out the most.
As a cellist,I have heard the Brahms E minor sonata performed countless times and often it comes off as a heavy, laborious effort. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love his interpretation…especially the second movement. The trio passage might even be the highlight of the entire sonata. You will want to have it on repeat. As Moser builds up a quite respectable discography, it becomes quickly apparent that he doesn’t take the traditional path. No Beethoven or Bach yet. While tackling Saint-Saens you get to hear a beautiful performance of the Second cello concerto that might even make Isserlis jealous. A three CD set “Brahms and his contemporaries” has the two popular Brahms sonatas but also includes the lesser known works by Strauss, Herzogenberg, Fuchs, Zemlinsky, Martucci and Kirchner. An entire CD is made up of the works of the Greek composer Theodorakis, including the Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra he composed in the 90s. He even has an album out in europe of prokofiev and schnittke’s string trios!
Apart from providing some much needed and quality attention to the neglected works in the cello repertory (and his very obvious draw to more recently composed music), Moser dabbles with his electric cello too. Check out this video about “Magnetar”…the concerto for electric cello he premiered this year with the LA Philharmonic.
Either way, he’s insanely talented and I cannot recommend seeing him live or purchasing one of his CDs highly enough.