I think all string players can learn from the way singers phrase and colour the music
I grew up in the far north of Norway where there were hardly any concerts, so most of the music I heard live was through my parents playing – my father was a cellist and my mother was a pianist. We bought our first record player when I was ten or eleven years old, when I got a recording of Schumann’s Dichterliebe with baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing. It had a very strong impact on me. I listened to it so many times that I know every colour and every expression in the performance. Now it’s impossible for me to listen to it objectively.
The line of the right hand in the piano introduction is just amazing – it is so full of suggestions of what is going to come. There is something incredibly inspiring about Fischer-Dieskau’s voice. I started playing the cello around that time, and his timbre was something I tried almost to copy. The cello is so related to the voice, maybe even more so than the other stringed instruments: it has the same register, from low to high. I think all string players can learn from the way singers phrase and colour the music.
Dichterliebe has drawn me very strongly to Schumann’s music. I wish that he had composed more for cello. It’s horrible to think that he wrote some cello romances that Clara probably burnt to protect his reputation in his later years.
Truls Mørk performs Dvořák's Cello Concerto on 14, 15 and 16 May with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jakob Hrůša in Basingstoke and London, UK.
Photo: Stéphane de Bourgies / Virgin Classics