Steven Isserlis, cello & Richard Egarr, harpsichord
Wednesday, April 25, 10:30 am
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Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist, Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author, and broadcaster. The recipient of many awards, Steven Isserlis is one of only two living cellists featured in Gramophone’s Hall of Fame. He takes a strong interest in presenting authentic performances using instruments and style that closely resemble music of the Baroque period. For this International Artist Series performance, he will be joined by the remarkable British harpsichordist Richard Egarr, in a recital featuring the viola da gamba sonatas of J.S. Bach as well as sonatas by Handel and Scarlatti. Egarr will play a harpsichord from the Schubert Club’s keyboard collection.
Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author and broadcaster. As a concerto soloist he appears regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, recent engagements including performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Budapest Festival, Philharmonia, Cleveland, Minnesota, Zurich Tonhalle and NHK Symphony Orchestras. He gives recitals every season in major musical centres, working with pianists such as Jeremy Denk, Kirill Gerstein, Stephen Hough, Alexander Melnikov, Olli Mustonen, Mikhail Pletnev, Sir Andras Schiff, Connie Shih, Ferenc Rados and Dénes Várjon; and plays with many of the world’s leading chamber orchestras, including period-instrument ensembles. Unusually, he also directs chamber orchestras from the cello, in classical programmes.Continue Reading
Highlights of the 15/16 season include a survey of the complete Bach Cello Suites at the Wigmore Hall and elsewhere; recital programmes with Ian Bostridge, Stephen Hough, Robert Levin and Richard Egarr; a special recital with Sir Andras Schiff at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn performed on fortepiano and Beethoven’s own cello (which was last played in public more than 50 years ago); his appointment as Guest Artistic Leader of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra; a major European tour with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Joshua Bell; and the world premiere of the orchestral version of Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés in Lucerne, with the composer himself conducting.
As a chamber musician he has curated series for many of the world’s most famous festivals and venues, including the Wigmore Hall, the 92nd St Y in New York, and the festivals of Salzburg and Verbier. These specially devised programmes have included ‘In the Shadow of War’, a major four-part series for the Wigmore Hall to mark the centenary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War; explorations of Czech music; the teacher-pupil line of Saint-Saens, Faure and Ravel; the affinity of the cello and the human voice; varied aspects of Robert Schumann’s life and music; and the music of Serge Taneyev (teacher of Steven’s grandfather, Julius Isserlis). For these concerts Steven is joined by a regular group of friends who include the violinists Joshua Bell, Pamela Frank and Isabelle Faust, violist Tabea Zimmermann, and clarinettist Michael Collins.
He takes a strong interest in authentic performance, and in addition to working with many of the foremost period instrument orchestras he frequently gives recitals with harpsichord and fortepiano. Together with Robert Levin, and using original or replica pianos from the early nineteenth century, he has performed and recorded Beethoven’s complete music for cello and piano; and with Richard Egarr he has performed and recorded the viola da gamba sonatas of J.S. Bach as well as sonatas by Handel and Scarlatti.
He is also a keen exponent of contemporary music and has premiered many new works, including John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil (as well as several other pieces by Tavener), Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés, Stephen Hough’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Left Hand (Les Adieux), Wolfgang Rihm’s Concerto in One Movement, David Matthews’ Concerto in Azzurro, works for cello and piano by Olli Mustonen, and For Steven by György Kurtág.
Writing and playing for children is another major interest. Steven Isserlis’ books for children about the lives of the great composers – Why Beethoven Threw the Stew and its sequel, Why Handel Waggled his Wig – are published by Faber and Faber. He has also written the text for three musical stories for children – Little Red Violin, Goldiepegs and the Three Cellos and Cindercella – with music by Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley; these are published by Universal Edition in Vienna. He has also given many concerts for children, for several years presenting a regular series at the 92nd Street Y in New York. As an educator Steven Isserlis gives frequent masterclasses all around the world, and for the past eighteen years he has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall, where his fellow-professors include Sir Andras Schiff, Thomas Adès and Ferenc Rados. As a writer and broadcaster he contributes regularly to publications including Gramophone, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, has guest edited The Strad magazine, and makes regular appearances on BBC Radio including on the Today programme, on Soul Music, as guest presenter of two editions of Saturday Classics, and as writer and presenter of a documentary about the life of Robert Schumann.
His diverse interests are reflected in an extensive and award-winning discography. His recording of the complete Solo Cello Suites by J.S. Bach for Hyperion met with the highest critical acclaim, and was Gramophone’s Instrumental Disc of the Year and Critic’s Choice at the Classical Brits. Other recent releases include Prokofiev and Shostakovich concertos with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Paavo Järvi; Dvorak Cello Concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Daniel Harding; the complete works for cello by Beethoven with Robert Levin on fortepiano, selected for the Deutsche Schallplatten Preis; and recital discs with Richard Egarr, Stephen Hough, Thomas Adès and (for BIS) a Grammy-nominated album of sonatas by Martinů with Olli Mustonen. Future releases for Hyperion include the Elgar and Walton concertos, alongside works by Gustav and Imogen Holst, with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Paavo Järvi.
The recipient of many awards, Steven Isserlis’s honours include a CBE in recognition of his services to music, and the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau. He is also one of only two living cellists featured in Gramophone’s Hall of Fame.
He gives most of his concerts on the Marquis de Corberon (Nelsova) Stradivarius of 1726, kindly loaned to him by the Royal Academy of Music.
Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, enquiring mind to all his music-making – whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber-music, and indeed talking about music at every opportunity. Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006, Egarr is also Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has a flourishing career as a guest conductor with orchestras such as London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw and Philadelphia Orchestra.Continue Reading
This season Egarr makes his debut with Finnish Radio Symphony, St Paul Chamber, Utah Symphony and Melbourne Symphony, and returns to the Seattle Symphony, NDR Hanover, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Residentie Orkest, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia and Tasmanian Symphony. He also returns to the Handel and Haydn Society Boston for two weeks.
Early in his tenure with AAM Egarr established the Choir of the AAM, and operas/oratorios lie at the heart of his repertoire; current plans with the AAM include a Purcell opera cycle at the Barbican Centre where they are an Associate Ensemble. He made his Glyndebourne debut in 2007 conducting a staged version of St Matthew Passion. Egarr is a lasting inspiration to young musicians, maintaining regular relationships at the Amsterdam Conservatoire, Britten Pears Foundation, and the Netherlands Opera Academy (La clemenza di Tito, Le nozze di Figaro and Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino). He is a Visiting Artist at the Juilliard School in New York.
Egarr continues to play solo recitals across the world, with concerts this season including Wigmore Hall, Bozar, and Carnegie Hall as part of a North American tour. His extensive discography on Harmonia Mundi includes solo keyboard works by JS Bach, Handel, Mozart and Louis Couperin, with JS Bach Partitas to be released in February 2017. His long list of recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music includes seven Handel discs (2007 Gramophone Award, 2009 MIDEM and Edison awards), and more recently JS Bach’s St John and Matthew Passions on the AAM’s own label. In 2015 he conducted a sold out performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore at Edinburgh International Festival, recorded live and released on Linn Records in 2016 to enthusiastic reviews.
Egarr trained as a choirboy at York Minster, at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and as organ scholar at Clare College Cambridge. His studies with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.
Date & Venue
Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 7:30pm & Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 10:30am
Ordway Concert Hall
Please join us one hour prior to the performance for a pre-concert talk.
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J.S. Bach – Sonata in G major for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, BWV1027
Boccherini – Cello Sonata in G major, G.5
J.S. Bach – Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011
Scarlatti – Keyboard Sonata in D minor, K. 141
Handel – Keyboard Suite No. 5 in E major, WV 430
J.S. Bach – Sonata in D major for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, BWV1028
Concerts are estimated to be approximately 2 hours with one intermission.
Isserlis played with fiery dexterity and swashbuckling vivacity.New York Times
Mr. Egarr’s playing was as entertaining as his palaver, showing a cleanliness, refinement and style all too rare among harpsichordists, but never at the cost of bountiful fantasy. Rich embellishments seem to flow naturally from his mind and fingers with little need for calculation...New York Times