An Elegant Nod to Casals from Cellist Taeguk Mun

Taeguk Mun's debut album, recently recorded in WCRB’s Fraser Performance Studio, is an homage to legendary cellist Pablo Casals.

It was a fateful day in the 1890s when 13-year-old cellist Pablo Casals picked up a copy of Bach’s then-unknown solo cello suites in a Barcelona thrift store. They lit a fire in him. He put them on record for the very first time in the 1930s, and now they’re the pinnacle of every cellist’s repertoire, inviting dance-like glimpses into every corner of the human spirit.

Flash forward to 2019. Taeguk Mun is twenty-five this year, a graduate of the New England Conservatory where he studied with the renowned cello master Laurence Lesser. Mun’s is the next generation to probe the Bach Cello Suites for their secrets, and his debut album opens with the first one. It unfolds like a blossom in its famous prelude, working through a set of stirring movements that close with a joyous gigue. Mun, who won first place in the 2014 Casals Competition, brings clarity and definition to the rhythmic underpinning of these movements. At the same time, he maintains his songful sound. It’s a warm and caressing performance.

Pianist Chi-ho Han joins Mun for the great Cello Sonata No. 3 by Beethoven. The two play off one another’s spirits, etching with crystal clarity all of Beethoven’s fastest dashes and detours, and making room to color the unexpected shadows that haunt almost all of Beethoven’s music. You’ll hear every nuance thanks to the beautiful and honest engineering of WCRB’s sound engineer and producer Antonio Oliart Ros.

Mun continues with a bouquet of encores that were dear to Pablo Casals – a transcription for cello and piano of Schumann’s piano piece “Träumerei” (Dreaming) and the song “Widmung” (Dedication). Anton Rubinstein’s Melody in F appears, too, in its arrangement by David Popper, as does Schubert’s moving “An die Musik” (To Music). The CD ends with “The Song of the Birds,” an incredibly touching arrangement by Casals himself of a traditional Catalan carol. This string of emotionally charged miniatures is played with a genuine and natural approach by both players.

Here are some glimpses into Taeguk Mun’s recording in our Fraser Performance Studio:

For more information and to purchase this album, visit Warner Classics.