For the Norwegian cellist, Truls Mørk there are no technical boundaries: he plays expressively and severely with inspiring inner tension. Some years ago he suffered from an illness which paralysed half of his body, but he got back and some say that now he plays even better. Read the interview of Fidelio with him!
In 2011 you already experienced playing with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. What were your impressions during that concert?
It would have been difficult for me to forget that concert row, as the Budapest Festival Orchestra is such a wonderful orchestra, so much engaged and playing so professionally, that this was for me one of the most inspiring experience for ever. Therefor I am very much looking forward to playing with them again in Budapest.
In 2011 you played the 1st cello concerto of Shostakovich, now in January in Budapest you also will play a Shostakovich piece, the 2nd cello concerto. I would like you to tell me about your relationship to Shostakovich, to him as this special figure of the music history, as well as his music and this special piece, which he wrote for Rostropovich, as I read.
As far as I know the first concerto was not written especially for Rostropovich, but I heard an interesting story, that Rostropovich wanted Shostakovich very much to write a piece for cello, which he could perform. But he was advised not to ask him directly doing so, because in that case he surely wouldn’t do it. He was too proud for that. But one day Shostakovich asked Rostropovich to come over and hear the concerto he had written. He also said that Rostropovich could take the notes to look at it. In a short time Rostropovich came back and he already learned the piece by heart and he played it to the composer. When Shostakovich asked how he liked the concerto, he answered very positively. So he dedicated the 1st concerto to Rostropovich. This piece is very special. It is revolutionary, starting with a march, which isn’t very typical of a cello concerto. Usually cello concertos start with lyric tunes. And also the solo cadencies are unusual.
Is the 2nd concerto unusual as well?
As far as I know, he started the second as a symphony and only later turned it to a cello concerto, which is one of the most impressive works of the late Shostakovich. It is much more personal and introverted than the 1st. In this piece you feel lot of loneliness, sadness, especially in the first and last movements. In between you find a lot of grotesque and ironic elements. You could say, this is the most exciting and complex work of the composer.
Can we say that out of all the other composers Shostakovich stands the closest to your heart?
You know, I always think that one of the greatest privilege of being a classical musician is that the music one can play spends through four hundred years. There are so many different repertoires which we can choose from. They are all wonderful.
It means, you don’t prefer this or that, just always the one you play?
Many people ask me often to pick my favorite composer, but I don’t think I have to find one or two of those outstanding musicians. I appreciate all of them for what they did and I always feel what they want to reflect on. I play Bach with equal enthusiasm as e.g. Shostakovich.
As far as I know, your parents back in Norway were both musicians. How did you decide to follow the musical path of your father and not that of your mother who was a pianist?
Well, I did play both instruments until I got 14-15 years old. I started to play the cello pretty late, I was already 11 when I first played it. Until that I sort of failed with my piano playing, then I also started the violin. But after a while my father told me to play the cello.
He allowed you or talked you into it?
I think he was happy that I started that, as I really liked it. I knew a part of the repertoire, and was very enthusiastic about playing that instrument. My father was smart enough not to force anything, but any time I needed his help, he was there for me. He was a real expert in technical questions.
Your mother did not take it personal that you did not choose her instrument, the piano?
Maybe she was, but she never expressed it, she was happy that I played the cello with pleasure. My father often said to me of course with a lot of humor, that I shouldn’t practice so much, because at the end I will become a musician! Of course everybody laughed in the family.
I presume, you never regret that you became a real world famous musician?
In fact I did not regret it ever. I am very happy that I chose this profession.
Not too long time ago a sad thing turned up in your life, as I learned, I don’t know, if I can ask you about it: this is the illness, which you fortunately could fight against and you got back again to the podium as wonderful as before. What was the most important in that "fight"?
Yes, those were very unfortunate circumstances that hit me. That was a virus infection which attacked my whole body. The side effects were very serious, my left side got completely paralysed. I didn’t have any muscles on that side which I could move. Also a section of my brain was out. But the good thing about viruses is that after a while they give up. So it was a quite long, but interesting period for me. I went from hospital to hospital and home again. But my surrounding and especially the doctors did so much for me that at the end we succeeded perfectly.
Some say that you play better than ever!
This of course sounds funny, but in fact as I went through this kind of trauma, my relationship to life and the world changed. I am thankful that I could get myself back and therefor I always think of giving this wonderful help somehow back. It is interesting for me as well that I started to live more consciously than before.
You have a wonderful cello. How did you get this Montagnana? What is the history of it?
This instrument was made in 1723 and I am extremely lucky, because since I stay on the stage I have been using it. It belonged before to a Norwegian bank and they offered me to buy it from them. I did not hesitate, I bought it.
Does it need a lot of care?
You won’t believe, almost none. It’s unbelievable how this many-hundred-year old wood stays healthy, you don’t see the time on it. Once a year I polish it nicely and that’s all. Of course I take care of it, because I like it very much!.