BACH Cello Suites, BWV 1007–10121. Cello Suite No. 1 in D Revisited
"It’s as if he gives them a good shake to get the dust of 300 years out of them, and suddenly the colors are vibrant again."

BACH Cello Suites, BWV 1007–10121. Cello Suite No. 1 in D Revisited
"It’s as if he gives them a good shake to get the dust of 300 years out of them, and suddenly the colors are vibrant again."

BACH Cello Suites, BWV 1007–10121. Cello Suite No. 1 in D Revisited (rev. by Viggo Mangor)
Toke Møldrup (vc); Elisabeth Zeuthen Schneider (vn); Kirstine Zeuthen Schneider (vn); Viggo Mangor (org) ● BRIDGE 9503A/B (2 CDs: 137:02)

If this were just another recording of Bach’s six Suites for Solo Cello, I would begin by telling you that Danish cellist, Toke Møldrup, plays with a tone of rare beauty and a musically intuitive insight into these works that make for compelling listening, and that his entry into this very crowded field is a true standout. I would then conclude by urging you to acquire Møldrup’s extraordinarily absorbing set of Bach’s cello suites, regardless of how many others you might already own, for this one is exceptional. And with that I would end this review, for there would be nothing further to say.

There is, however, a good deal more to say because there is more to this set than the six standard suites, and that is what makes this release not just irresistible for Møldrup’s exquisite playing, but what makes it unique. Following Møldrup’s readings of the six suites in their expected order and as-written form, the cellist is joined by Viggo Mangor, playing a chamber organ, and violinists Elisabeth Zeuthen Schneider and Kirstine Zeuthen Schneider in an “envisaged”—and I must say, inspired—version of the Suite No. 1, transposed to D Major, as a Baroque trio sonata. The handiwork is essentially that of Mangor, but it was brainstormed in close collaboration with Møldrup, and it is as beautiful and authentic sounding as if Bach had written it himself.

Understand that this is no simple arranging of the original cello part into three voices of a trio sonata in which the two violins and right hand of the keyboard part have the melody and engage in contrapuntal interplay, while the left hand of the keyboard part is the “basso,” reinforced by the cello playing the bass line. No, Mangor and Møldrup’s extensive and very detailed album note, with a musical example, explains and illustrates how the derivation and embellishment of the lines are implicit within and emerge naturally from the contours of Bach’s melodies, as a fully formed sculpture is embedded within and materializes from the block of granite.

I admit to being a bit concerned at first, as I made my way through much of the booklet’s abstract analytics, that what was being put forth was a philosophical argument or apology for reinterpreting the urtext of Bach’s cello suites in some heretofore-radical way. But I needn’t have worried, and neither should you. Møldrup’s readings do impress as being a bit freer than most, as to where phrases are broken, breaths taken, and agogic accents applied; but in the playing of the six suites themselves, Møldrup is well within the norm of tempos, articulation, and interpretive consensus. What truly distinguishes his readings for me is how enlivening they are. It’s as if he gives them a good shake to get the dust of 300 years out of them, and suddenly the colors are vibrant again.

The note tells us that Møldrup plays a 1697 Tecchler cello, courtesy of the Augustinus Foundation in Suites I through V, and in Suite VI and Suite I Revisited, a mid-18th-century Italian cello, rebuilt as a five-string instrument in 2016 by Copenhagen luthier Birger Kulmbach. I could be wrong, but my ear tells me that the 1697 Tecchler has been refitted to modern standards because it doesn’t sound like a period instrument. Indeed, all of the musicians here are players in modern Danish orchestras and chamber ensembles, and violinist Kirstine Schneider studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and cites Hilary Hahn, Nikolaj Znaider, and the Juilliard and Emerson String Quartets as major influences.

When Møldrup isn’t recording Bach’s suites, he returns to his post as solo cellist of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, and frequently appears as a soloist with other Danish orchestras and chamber groups. He is the recipient of Queen Ingrid’s Honorary Award for his achievements and contributions to Denmark’s cultural scene.

I conclude where I began. This is an extraordinarily beautiful and compelling set of Bach’s cello suites — with the added bonus of the Mangor “Suite I Revisited” — which I strongly urge you to acquire, regardless of how many others you might already have.

Jerry Dubins
FANFARE May/June 2018

Sven-David Sandström Nordic Mass

Sven-David Sandström Nordic Mass

Sven-David Sandström Nordic Mass

Sven-David Sandström: Nordic Mass Toke Møldrup, violoncello, Mogens Dahl Chamber Choir/Mogens Dahl Exlibris EXLCD30164 (82’·DDD)

For the musical curious with time on their hands, as well as a penchant for superb a capella singing, this monumental celebration of Nordic (natural phenomena) should prove an intriguing and highly satisfying acquisition… The ”Storm” movement (track 3) is probably the most extrovert moment on the disc which is considerably boldened by the virtuoso playing of the Copenhagen Philharmonic’s solo cellist Toke Møldrup, in providing an extra timbral voice, ramps up the emotional intensity, especially when he ascends towards those giddying Protecting Veil altitudes. At other times he acts as the protagonist, and for five minutes takes centre stage for his solo ”Ragas and Raginis”
Malcolm Riley, Grammophone, January 2015

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Cellist Toke Møldrup is tomorrow's man

Cellist Toke Møldrup is tomorrow's man

Classical debut (Rating: 6 hearts of 6) Reviewer Thomas Michelsen, Politiken, Friday March 11, 2005 "Not only did the evening's programme offer weighty and challenging works. They were performed with a remarkable mastery of technical details. A mastery which Toke Møldrup - whose debut concert this was - displayed with musical and expressive confidence, but never recklessly. As a musician he maintains the beauty of the instrument's melodious sound, regardless of the musical landscape in which he finds himself. Two very different solo performances were at the centre of the 24-year-old musician's programme. A solo suite by Bach - notably the most difficult of the six, the last one in D major - and a solo sonata by Per Nørgård. Bach's demands for ascents were easily met by the player. The playingwas pure and buoyant until the last double stop. And then Nørgård, in two wildly different movements in Solo Sonata No. 2, offered Møldrup a chance to shine, with frost clear Nordic moods, expressed in clean intervals, and with a dramatically challenging last movement. In addition to the two solo works, Møldrup was accompanied in Beethoven's last cello sonata and Grieg's Sonata in A minor. Full honours to a musician who - accompanied by the intensely alert Tanja Zapolski at the piano - triumphed in both pieces. The Beethoven sonata made a strong impression with its second movement allowing full expression of pain and the finale with its knotty, steep, sharply defined fugal work. The Grieg sonata offered a surprise. The Norwegian romantic's generally disliked, extremely broad cello sonata is not often heard, and is rightly criticized for having a finale that goes on and on without adding anything much to what has already been said. Møldrup might as well have chosen for instance one of Brahms' sonatas. Instead he and Tanja Zapolski took on the challenge. With surprising intensity and strength he held our attention in a vice-like grip until the very last note. An achievement in a rather unrewarding work. At the end we were given two luxurious encores from the collection of solo virtuoso pieces for cello. First a tempestuous round of variations on a theme by Paganini, with left hand pizzicato and all sorts of devilry. No need to comment. It was totally convincing. The rare reviewer's six hearts must be awarded, in spite of the fact that this was a debut. Actually, Møldrup is not a complete novice. Among other achievements he has already performed on an extremely successful Beethoven CD with the Paizo Quartet on the Classico label."

Busy weekend for brilliant young cellist

Busy weekend for brilliant young cellist

"... Toke Møldrup is one of the young recipients of the Jacob Gade Prize. And this weekend he played cello! Møldrup, 24, stepped in to cover for an absent colleague - and rescued Saturday's concert at Fredens Church. Together with Copenhagen Soloists he played Haydn's First Cello Concerto with great conviction and seemed extremely well prepared. And when another colleague called in sick, Møldrup also rescued Sunday's chamber concert at the National Museum, this time as a member of the Paizo Quartet. The four strings' interpretation of Mozart's "Dissonance" Quartet was simply brilliant. There are no superfluous notes in this musician. The music is alive every second - moving up or down, to and fro. No two notes sound the same. This is how music should always be played ..."

A great cello performance opens the season ...

A great cello performance opens the season ...

"... - Young Toke Møldrup's interpretation and mould-ing of Dvorak's Cello Concerto was the definitive highlight of the concert. Surprisingly, Denmark has several young cellists of high international standing. Does the cello express something essential in the Danish national character? Toke Møldrup mastered the combination of intensity and nobility which this concerto demands. Sound and phrasing/shaping had a wonderfully lyrical expression. And the collaboration with Ceccato and the orchestra worked well. In his encore, a movement by the great cello master Caspar Cassado, Toke Møldrup displayed other aspects of his great talent, the folksy strolling player in an extremely virtuoso, but popular Spanish style ..."