cello genius

Given a straight choice, my favourite orchestral instrument is undoubtedly the cello.

It’s a love that dates back to seeing the great French cellist Paul Tortelier doing ‘Masterclass’ on tv in the 1970s, though he did the show in the 60s and 80s too.

Such was his impact that we arranged a family trip to see him play at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool with Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra.

I can’t remember what they played, but as I have a recording made by the same forces from around the same time, I think it was the Dvorak concerto.

Later, my love of Elgar was celebrated in the famous recording of his cello concerto by Jacqueline Du Pre and Sir John Barbirolli, again with the LSO.

The other great cellist of the era and perhaps of all time is of course Mstislav Rostropovich.

John Bridcut’s 2011 documentaryabout him is currently on the BBC iPlayer and I heartily recommend you give it a viewing.

Of particular interest is his close relationship, both musically and personally, with Benjamin Britten.

Bridcut managed to synch up an audio recording of ‘Slava’ playing the Britten Sonata in Moscow with a previously unseen tv recording of the same concert.

With Britten at the piano, it’s spine-tingling, and clearly demonstrates their rapport.

You also get marvellous interviews with his two daughters and his widow, the great soprano Galina Vishnevskya, who played a key role in the creation of Britten’s ‘War Requiem,’ which I have posted about recently.

Rostropovich: The Genius Of The Cello – BBC iPlayer

Paul Tortelier – Masterclass BBC tv – Dvorak Cello Concerto

Jacqueline Du Pre – Elgar Cello Concerto – extract

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