“As Daniel Müller-Schott intimates in his own perceptive booklet note for this release, the two Shostakovich cello concertos, although separated by just seven years, inhabit very different worlds. Müller-Schott reflects this in his cello-playing: where No 1 still has an element of post-Stalinist optimism about it, to No 2 he brings home the desperation of the composer's situation, beset with heart and neurological illness. The soloist is set well forward in the aural picture, which emphasises Müller-Schott's eloquent tone and expression, but Yakov Kreizberg and his orchestra play their own part, with particularly vivid percussion in the Second Concerto. A gripping disc.”
Daily Telegraph, June 2008
“The dark-hued and deeply introspective Second remains an elusive, enigmatic work, and it's Daniel Müller-Schott's masterly performance of that which makes this disc especially impressive. Müller-Schott studied the two concertos with Rostropovich, but his tempi for the second are much slower than his teacher's so that the work's sombre subtext - the soloist as the creative artist, pitted against the repression of the Soviet state represented by the orchestra - is impossible to ignore with a finale that ends, like Shostakovich's 15th Symphony, with the death rattle of ticking percussion. Yakov Kreizberg and the Bavarian Radio Symphony provide outstanding support.”
The Guardian, July 2008 **** (on the Second Concerto)
“Erik Levi is deeply impressed by the conviction and incisiveness with which cellist Daniel Müller-Schott tackles two of the greatest concertos of the past century.”
There are several outstanding versions of Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto available (from Han-Na Chang and the work's dedicatee Rostropovich on EMI, and from Yo-Yo Ma on Sony, two name but a few), yet this latest warmly recorded release from German cellist Daniel Mueller-Schott must rank amongst the finest. From the very outset, there's a real sense of urgency about the performance, Mueller-Schott's razor-sharp articulation in the outer movements managing to combine rhythmic incisiveness with highly charged delivery.
The orchestra under Yakov Kreizberg provides superb support throughout, the woodwind sounding particularly sarcastic in the chattering passage work of the Finale, the strings and timpani attacking each staccato with brutal percussiveness. One might take issue with Kreizberg's unduly drawn out conception of the orchestral introduction to the second movement (more Largo than the composer's prescribed Moderato), though after Mueller-Schott's first heartfelt entry, the tempo manages to achieves far greater fluidity. Indeed after building up to an extremely powerful climax, Mueller-Schott's reprise of the main theme in harmonics sounds particularly desolate, paving the way for a Cadenza that is not only dazzling in its virtuosity but also generates all the necessary cumulative tension to propel us inexorable into the Finale.
If anything the Second Concerto is even more impressive. In the outer movements Mueller-Schott and Kreizberg risk taking tempos that are a good deal slower than those favoured by Rostropovich in his DG recording with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston SO. The obvious danger in taking this very broad approach is that the musical argument can all too easily seem discursive and lacking in direction. But such is the conviction with which soloist and conductor project every note that one is immediately drawn into the music's dark and brooding atmosphere. In his revealing booklet notes Mueller-Schott argues that this work is perhaps 'the most emotionally multi-layered of all cello concertos', supporting this contention by investing the simplest motifs with infinite variety of nuance. At the same time the solo instruments from the Bavarian orchestra engage in the most intimate chamber-music like communion with the cello. In the context of such an introspective approach, the few moments where Shostakovich unleashes the power of the full orchestra seem all the more overwhelming, none more so than the unusually sinister transformation of the popular Odessa street song from the second movement near the end of the Finale.
Among the strongest rivals offering the two concertos on one disc, the committed playing of Mischa Maisky with the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas on DG still warrants serious consideration, though in comparison Maisky doesn't always carry the solo line in the Second Concerto with quite the same degree of intensity as Mueller-Schott.
BBC Music Magazine, Proms 2008
Likes to jog and play badminton. Enjoys 19th-century French paintings. Took the cello prize at the 1994 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. These entertaining tidbits from his website’s biography shrivel, though, beside the single fact that hits you as soon as this CD begins with Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1: Daniel Müller-Schott is a wonderful musician.
The 32-year-old German is helped by his instrument, a Matteo Goffriller cello, circa 1700, of surpassing warmth and depth of tone. But you need nimble responses to keep pace with Shostakovich, not to mention a conductor and an orchestra (Yakov Kreizberg and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra) anxious to drive forward.
Throughout the disc – the second, bleaker concerto of 1966 is also included – Müller-Schott manages the singular trick of keeping his cello tone rich and gorgeous without lessening the music’s ability to stab the heart.
Listen to his lonely eloquence as he climbs up the first concerto’s second movement, and the eerie shiverings at its peak, when cello harmonics join hands with the celesta in an unearthly duet. The second concerto receives an equally febrile performance.
Once in a while you do wish for extra bite: the end of the first concerto’s finale, say, which Kreizberg concludes with a cheery wave some distance from the “insane goings-on” mentioned in Müller-Schott’s booklet note. On the other hand, timpani thwacks in the second concerto have the impact of an exploding bomb. The bomb explodes, in part, because of Orfeo’s full recording, which gives soloist and the superb orchestra depth, space and rotundity. I know of no other versions of these concertos played or recorded with such polish.
Four Stars, Geoff Brown, The Times June 27, 2008