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  1. SpaceWarp

    Upcoming premiere

    SPACEWARP
    6.45pm AEDT, Friday 4 December 2020 on YouTube / Facebook
    Holly Harrison
    Composer
    Alex Voorhoeve
    Cello

    Program note:

    Written for 5-string electric cello and effects, SpaceWarp conjures up space-inspired and intergalactic imagery. The sound of the cello is quite literally ‘warped’ by effects, particularly delay, creating a kind of wrinkle in time and space.

    The cello is rhythmically frenetic, yet is continuously interrupted by lyrical fragments that burst through, giving way to a more melodic middle section. These moments see the cello sounding more natural or familiar. It’s no accident that SpaceWarp sounds rather like spacewalk, with the delay effect in the slower section suggesting a sense of slow-motion or weightlessness experienced by astronauts in zero gravity.

    HOLLY HARRISON

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    COMPOSER
    Holly Harrison

    Holly Harrison, Composer

    Holly Harrison is a young Australian composer from Western Sydney. Holly’s music is driven by the nonsense literature of Lewis Carroll, embracing stylistic juxtapositions, the visceral energy of rock, and whimsical humour. Her music has been performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the USA. She has recently been announced as the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s first ACS composer in residence across 2020 and 2021.

    Holly’s music has been performed by artists including four-time Grammy award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Australian Youth Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring, Orkest de Ereprijs, Goldmund Quartett, and Nu Deco Ensemble.

    Her works have been heard at the 2020 String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (NL), Gaudeamus Muziekweek (NL), November Music (NL), LA Phil’s Noon to Midnight (USA), Sounds of Sweden (SWE), and Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (USA).

    Holly has held composer in residence positions at MLC School and Prairiewood High School. She plays drum kit in the improvised rock duo, Tabua- Harrison – their debut record Scout is available on Psychopyjama.

    www.hollyharrison.net . @harrison_composer

    SOLOIST
    Alex Voorhoeve, CSO Cello

    Alex Voorhoeve (Image: Lorna Sim, from ‘Lake March’, courtesy of Australian Dance Party)

    As a young cellist, the great inertial mass of my musical education enticed me to Europe, a natural progression for a young, classically trained musician. My time spent with various ensembles I performed and toured with; the sheer quantity, quality and diversity of experience; and the consumption of brilliant, strange and challenging artistic productions of all manner inspired me to explore my own esoteric expressions of how I personally experience music.

    To this end I returned to Australia where I completed a graduate diploma in computer animation at the Australian Centre for Arts and Technology. These skills brought forth Discovery, Familiarisation, Recognition, a prototype musical visualisation written for three cellos, exploring how to embed the structural and acoustic information in a piece of music into a coherent visual narrative.

    I wanted to explore if this complex, translated visual information could reflect a similar emotional portrait experienced by the listener. Supplementing this work, I developed an interactive DVD-rom which used this music visualisation as an educational tool to introduce a wide variety of the concepts which underpin harmony, rhythm and musical structure. After featuring this work at a variety of international conferences and music festivals, my focus became more granular, pursuing explorations in composition, sound design and relationships between movement and sound as articulated through my work with ensembles like AmpleSample and the Australian Dance Party.

    My explorations into the avant-garde have been nicely balanced with my more traditional work with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, chamber ensembles engagements including choral and ballet productions, film scores and jazz productions.

    ALEX VOORHOEVE

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    PART OF THE CSO’s AUSTRALIAN MINISERIES

  2. CSO Mixtape: Julia Janiszewski

    Julia Janiszewski

    An alumna of the Canberra School of Music, cellist Julia Janiszewski was one of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural Kingsland Residents. A prolific chamber and orchestral musician, Julia has toured internationally with the Childers Street Quartet and the Australian Youth Orchestra, and has been a core member of the Sydney-based Mariner Trio and the Brisbane-based Taimana Ensemble.

    In addition to her classical performance, Julia enjoys side-gigging as a freelancer in jazz, folk, and contemporary contexts. She has collaborated with artists such as Benny Maupin, the RAah Project, Darol Anger, Tristan Clarridge, Duncan Wickel and Lena Jonsson.

    Julia began her cello studies with Louise King in 2004, at the age of 11, studying subsequently with Matthew Farrell, David Pereira, Julian Smiles, and Meta Weiss. During her conservatorium years, Julia received numerous prizes and awards, including First Class Honours, the Corinna D’Hage String Scholarship, the Basil Jones Sonata Prize, the Margeret Smiles Most Outstanding Instrumentalist prize and the Griffith University Postgraduate Award.

    Julia is an established cello teacher of eight years and a strong advocate for outreach and education initiatives in classical music.
    More about Julia

    Selected listening notes

    At times it has seemed impossible to keep this mixtape under two hours, resulting in a lot of terrific works ending up on the cutting room floor (is Mahler’s third symphony really over an hour and a half?). In the end, I’ve settled on compiling a playlist of works and recordings that have, at one point or another, had a profound impact on my development as a musician and of which I can’t help but smile (or cry) when I listen to them.

    JULIA JANISZEWSKI

    Carl VINE AO Inner World (from Cello World)
    Steven Isserlis (cello)

    First on the playlist is an extraordinary work by Carl Vine that is even more extraordinary to experience live (and even more extraordinary still to perform – this was the piece I chose to cap off my graduating recital from the Sydney Conservatorium and I’ll never forget the experience).

    Inner World is a piece for amplified cello and tape (its official instrumentation delightfully evokes a 90s nostalgia; realistically, the piece would be performed today with the backing track from a tablet or laptop hooked into an AV system). The “tape”, as it’s called, is comprised entirely of sounds generated by an acoustic cello and edited by Vine in a digital audio workstation to create an ethereal and often alien palette that compliments – and occasionally wrestles with – the live player onstage. Long-time Canberra audiences will be chuffed to discover that the cellist responsible for every sound in the tape is David Pereira, making this piece an especially significant work in the Australian cello repertoire.

    Steven Isserlis’ recording manages to capture the excitement and thrill of a live performance and strengthens the already unique character of the piece with his distinctive gut string sound. If you ever get a chance to see this work live, I highly recommend it; until then, this track is an exemplary demonstration.

    BEN SOLLEE Letting Go (from Letting Go)
    Ben Sollee (cello and voice)

    One of my more recent discoveries has been the world of folk cello: I attended a folk fiddle camp in Queensland in 2016 and have been hooked ever since, exploring the folk techniques and traditions that have developed in tandem alongside the classical string tradition but have only in recent decades begun to intermingle. This song was one of the first I listened to within that intermingled space, and it’s a favourite that I regularly return to.

    Ben Sollee is an American cellist that combines the fidelity of sound and intonation that one identifies with a classical tradition with soulful and powerful vocals. In Letting Go, composed for the 2013 film Killing Season, Sollee exemplifies the versatility of expression and rhythmic power of the cello, transporting listeners to the Appalachian countryside and a golden sunset.

    Johannes BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D major I. Allegro ma non troppo
    Hilary Hahn (violin), Sir Neville Marriner (composer), Academy of St. Martin in the Fields

    The first movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto is an Everest not just for the player but the listener, clocking in at over 20 minutes and taking up a sizeable portion of this playlist. However, I couldn’t pass it by: in my humble opinion, this movement is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written and seems to contain the whole prism of the human experience within it. Moments of triumphant jubilation, of indescribable tenderness, of passionate rage, and glimmers of uncertainty and doubt combine to make a music statement like no other.

    This recording takes the crown for the first time I’d ever listened to a work the entire way through with unwavering attention; I think I might’ve been 14 or 15 at the time and only been playing cello for about 3 years (the sum of my musical cultivation at that time was thinking the cello solo in Pirates of the Caribbean was pretty neat). Hilary Hahn plays with virtuosity and expressivity of the highest order, with an orchestra that is sensitive to her every nuance and inflection.

    Igor STRAVINSKY Petrushka: Selections from the Fourth Tableau (The Shrovetide Fair)
    Sir Simon Rattle (conductor), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

    I had the great privilege of performing the orchestral suite to Stravinsky’s Petrushka in the 2014 Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp, and it remains the most defining orchestral experience of my life. The Fourth Tableau is a brilliant kaleidoscope of symphonic colours and textures and is terrific fun to play: when the camp’s conducter Alexandre Bloch told the room of young, impressionable musicians to play the Danse des cochers et des palefreniers as a modern-day house party rave with its “doof doof” rhythm (“turn on the subwoofer”), it was no wonder there was vicarious head banging in the concert.

    Included in this playlist is a short segment of the Fourth Tableau (ending on the aforementioned and irresistibly fun Danse des cochers et des palefreniers ­– seriously, do turn on the subwoofer at 1:25). This recording with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra does a great job of capturing the joy felt by the musicians as they go absolutely ham, as the kids say.

    PUNCH BROTHERS It’s All Part of the Plan (from All Aboard)

    I’m generally not one for following bands too closely – I tend to gravitate towards individual songs rather than the artists themselves. Punch Brothers are the notable exception: it seems no matter what they produce, I’m interested and invested, and no other contemporary band has affected my musical development quite the same way. Combining impeccable instrumental technique with a highly cultivated musical sensibility, they push against the boundaries of progressive bluegrass/folk in a way that is at once both intellectual and emotional. Some listeners might recognise mandolin player Chris Thile from his excellent recording of the Bach Violin Partitas and Sonatas.

    It’s All Part of the Plan is by no means my favourite song of the Punch Brothers; truth be told, I would’ve happily put any of their tracks in this playlist. I settled on this one because it is a very eloquent example of the band’s appeal to both the head and the heart: it feels very intuitive despite the time signature of 5/4 and a key centre that shifts almost imperceptibly throughout the song.

    Sergei RACHMANINOFF Cello Sonata in G minor III. Andante & IV. Allegro mosso
    Torleif Thedéen (cello), Roland Pöntinen (piano)

    I played the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata during my second year of study at the Canberra School of Music during an emotionally turbulent year: I had been struggling with serious playing-related injuries that prompted a complete revision of my technique (to say nothing of the doubts they cast on my dreams to be a professional musician), and the School was in the middle of one of its most significant financial challenges in which the value of classical music was questioned at every corner. Needless to say, it wasn’t a climate that engendered much faith in the music industry, and I look back on that time as largely one of listlessness and hopelessness. I have this sonata to thank for being the reason to smile through it all: it was picked up as a passion project between me and a pianist friend, and we workshopped it over the course of 7 months and performed it many times.

    Torleif Thedéen is one of the finest cellists of his generation, and this 1988 recording with pianist Roland Pöntinen is a personal favourite of mine. I love the fourth movement for its radiant joy, but it was necessary to include on this playlist the utterly sublime third movement which is Rachmaninoff at his finest.

    Samuel BARBER Violin Concerto II. Andante
    Hilary Hahn (violin), Hugh Wolff (conductor), Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

    The second movement of Barber’s Violin Concerto is on this playlist for a highly personal reason that will remain personal; it suffices to say that this is a transcendent movement that in another, more ideal universe would’ve been the capstone of the entire concerto (Barber was compelled by his patron to add the flashy third movement – while fun, I think it’s not as effective an ending).

    Hilary Hahn delivers a delicate expression to the movement that is tender (but never saccharine) and drives the pace forward in moments where others might languish, saving her full outpouring for the big moments.

    JACOB COLLIER With the Love in My Heart (from Djesse Vol. 1)
    Jacob Collier, Metropole Orkest

    If you ask me to name the greatest musical genius alive today, I would without hesitation say Jacob Collier. I’m yet to find another musician that has such a complete understanding of every technical element (rhythm, harmony, melody, intonation, instrumentation, audio engineering, you name it) whilst retaining a child-like wonder and joy for all music, from the great Western classical works to the ethnomusical traditions of Morrocan Gnawa music. In the words of YouTuber Adam Neely, “[Jacob Collier] is obnoxiously good at music”. Most insultingly, he’s only 26.

    Whilst Collier’s music can sometimes be impenetrably technical, Djesse Vol. 1 is at least definably “progressive funk”. With the Love in My Heart is a delight to listen to, and to listen to often: there are so many small details that reward repeated engagement, and it’s a go-to of mine for road trips. If your subwoofer is still on from Petrushka, keep an ear out for 1:41.

    Paul STANHOPE Piano Trio No. 1 “Dolcissimo Uscignolo”
    University of Queensland Chamber Players

    Paul Stanhope’s Dolcissimo Uscignolo (translating to “sweetest nightingale”) was one of the first contemporary Australian chamber works I performed during my final year at the Sydney Conservatorium with two dear friends, and what an experience that was: it’s an exciting work with a plethora of extended techniques that are emblematic of contemporary classical (at one point, the pianist has to reach into the belly of their instrument and pluck the strings directly). Whilst it has driving, dissonant passages with angular rhythms, there is also a beauty that belies its inspiration from the Montiverdi work of the same name. The ending in particular is bittersweet and melancholy, keeping the players and listeners in a suspended and mesmerised silence for long after the last note has sounded.

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN String Quartet No. 15 in A minor III. Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der Lydischen Tonart
    Goldner String Quartet

    The extensive title of this movement translates to “Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity, in the Lydian mode”. It was written as a prayer of thanks after Beethoven recovered from a serious illness that he had feared was fatal, and is a timeless expression of gratitude, faith, and hope.

    The Goldner String Quartet’s recordings of the Beethoven cycle remains one of the greatest cultural achievements of this country: recorded live in 2008, it never fails to astonish to hear the applause at the end of each work to remind you that these weren’t judiciously stitched in an editing booth after multiple takes, but that the perfect ensemble and perfect expression was a product of that moment in time from Australia’s finest.

    I close out my playlist with this movement, apt as it is for our place in history, as a prayer for a world that needs healing: not just from the horrors of the pandemic, but from the threat of climate change and the dangers to democracy in a post-truth internet age. Beethoven, in all his ineffable genius, reminds us that hope springs eternal.

    Curator profile: Julia Janiszewski

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO.

    My name is Julia Janiszewski, and I am a Canberra based cellist. I was one of the inaugural Kingsland Resident Artists, and now enjoy working with the CSO as a member of the cello section.

    How did you come to be a musician?

    Both my brother and sister started playing violin through our primary school’s string program – I wasn’t interested, as the violin was too squeaky for me! But then my siblings came back from an evening of busking with a hat full of coins each and I was thrilled at the prospect of making money, so picked up the violin the very next day. A few months later, after my mum catching me practicing the violin like a cello (holding it between the knees) on multiple occasions, I was given my own cello as a present and haven’t looked back since.

    Name three careers you could see yourself in if you weren’t a musician (and tell us why).

    An author, a filmmaker, or a historian. I love story-telling and love any work that has an element of personal craft to it.

    Describe your best and worst gigs.

    Best gigs are the ones with great friends in a great acoustic playing timeless repertoire (it also helps if the hors d’oeuvres are good). Worst gigs are the outdoor ones with armies of flies and extreme weather events.

    Tell us about your favourite performance space.

    I have a special fondness for the Wesley Music Centre here in Canberra: lots of great memories as both a performer and a member of the audience.

    For what in life do you feel most grateful?

    The family and friends who have been there through the best and worst of times.

    What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

    Don’t sweat the small stuff; every experience is a formative one, even the bad (heck, especially the bad).

    Are you a cat person or a dog person?

    If I had to choose, I’d say cat, but I love both cats and dogs very much and dream of the day I can have five of each.

    What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

    Currently working my way through British pianist Stephen Hough’s book “Rough Ideas”, and enjoying it very much. It’s a fascinating insight into one of the most thoughtful and intelligent minds in classical music today.

    What’s something you love doing that has nothing to do with music?

    I’m an avid gamer, and am the biggest Dungeons and Dragons nerd you will ever meet.

    THIS CSO MIXTAPE SUPPORTED BY PEPPERS GALLERY HOTEL  
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  3. CSO Mixtape: Umberto Clerici, Artist in Focus

    Umberto Clerici, 2020 Artist in Focus (Image: Jay Patel)

    With a career spanning more than 20 years as a gifted cello soloist, orchestral musician, and now emerging conductor, Umberto Clerici is swiftly gaining a reputation as an artist with a diverse and multifaceted career.

    As a cello soloist, Umberto made his debut at the age of 17 performing Haydn’s D Major cello concerto in Japan, and has since appeared with an array of renowned orchestras internationally including the Vienna Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Russian State Orchestra  of Moscow, “I Pomeriggi Musicali” (Milan) and Zagreb Philharmonic. In 2003  he made his debut at the Salzburg Festival and in 2012 he performed Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo variations” conducted by Valery Gergiev. Umberto has performed on the stages of the world’s most prestigious concert halls including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Vienna’s Musicverein, the great Shostakovich Hall of St Petersburg and Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.

    In 2014 Umberto was appointed as the Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony following his appointment as Principal Cellist of the Royal Opera House in Turin for four years. Umberto enjoys solo appearances with the Sydney Symphony; in 2017 with an interdisciplinary project centred on Strauss’ Don Quixote and in 2018 Brahms’ Double Concerto. Umberto also enjoys his position as the Artistic Director of the Sydney
    Youth Orchestra Chamber Ensemble. Umberto plays a 1722 Matteo Goffriller and a 1758 Carlo Antonio Testore. More about Umberto

    Listening notes

    I think a playlist made by a musician should change constantly, according to the interests, what we are studying and the research we are doing. This playlist is the result of five months without live concerts but a lot of time spent studying different repertoire.

    PART ONE: INTERPRETING BACH

    I started with a compilation of Bach’s first cello solo suite, followed with a selection from my “Suite Cubed” that I recorded for ABC Classics three years ago. The concept originated from a few questions: does recording the ‘famous’ repertoire still make sense? Don’t we have enough recordings on the market? How much of our ego is involved in this process and how much is our actual contribution?

    I consider live concerts as completely different because they exist in a specific time, in a specific place and with a specific artist and audience, but recordings are like immortal documents. When ABC asked me to record Bach I said no because I didn’t feel the need to add another version based purely on performing features / differences, in the ocean of the hundreds of Bach recordings already in existence. But I was interested in developing the idea of Bach in a different context, his inspiration about the cello (the Ricercate by Degli Antonii is 50 years older than Bach’s suites) and his heritage among future composers. And also what makes the ‘box’ of the suite so dramaturgically successful.

    So, my mixtape starts with a compilation of four great cellists (one is a Gamba player actually), from different parts of the world and different ages, starting from Pablo Casals who ‘rediscovered’ this music – finding a copy of a very old, printed edition in a second-hand shop by the Rambla in Barcelona – to Palo Pandolfo and his reinterpretation of them on the viola da Gamba, passing by the ‘historically informed’ reading of the Dutch Anner Bylsma and the super romanticised personality of the legendary Rostropovich.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 I. Prélude, II. Allemande
    Pablo Casals Cello

    Pablo Casals discovered the Bach cello solo suite when he was 13. He made a complete recording of the six suites in London 50 years later, when he was in his sixties.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 III. Courante
    Anner Bylsma Cello

    Anner Byslma was one of the first cellists – probably the best of his generation – who tried to recreate the original sound and style of a historically informed Bach. Gut strings and less vibrato!

    Johann Sebastian BACH Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 IV. Sarabande
    Mstislav Rostropovich Cello

    Listen to the sound, the vibrato, of Slava, like a cathedral!

    Johann Sebastian BACH Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 V. Menuet I–II, VI. Gigue (arr P Pandolfo)
    Paolo Pandolfo Cello

    At the time of the composition, the viola da gamba was the established instrument and the cello was his younger ‘nephew.’ Paolo Pandolfo tries to reimagine the suites as if they had been composed on the gamba: a less loud and less deep instrument, yet more resonant thanks to the six strings and frets.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Suite for Cello Solo No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 I. Prélude
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    The peak of Bach’s cello ‘exploration,’ the magnificent sixth suite prelude. Composed having in mind a smaller, five string cello, here ‘adapted’ for a normal-sized cello with four strings.

    Giovanni Battista DEGLI ANTONII 12 Ricercate Ricercata XI 
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    Older than Bach, one of pioneers of the ‘new born cello’ from Bologna in the mid 1600s.

    Alfredo PIATTI 12 Caprices for Solo Cello, op. 25 No. 9 in D major
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    Another great Italian cellist named Alfredo Piatti composed 12 capricci, 200 years after Degli Antonii, following the path of what Paganini did for the violin.

    Johann Sebastian BACH Suite for Cello Solo No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 IV. Sarabande 
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    The dark and sensual Sarabande, a forbidden dance, from the second solo suite in D minor.

    Giovanni SOLLIMA Alone
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    Another great Italian cellist, 200 years after Piatti and 400 after Degli Antonii, covering a huge timespan for the cello. Sollima is a great virtuoso and his piece here, Alone, recreates an ancient and archaic song … with a rock and roll flavour!

    Gaspar CASSADÓ Suite for Solo Cello III. Intermezzo e Danza Finale – a Jota
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    The flamenco ends the Suite Cubed as a rustic gigue ended the Bach ones. This work was composed by the Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassadò and dedicated to his teacher, the cellist we began this playlist with – the legendary Pablo Casals.

    Gaspar CASSADÓ Suite for Solo Cello III. Intermezzo e Danza Finale – a Jota
    Umberto Clerici Cello

    The flamenco ends the Suite Cubed as a rustic gigue ended the Bach ones. This work was composed by the Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassadò and dedicated to his teacher, the legendary Pablo Casals – the cellist we began this playlist with.

    PART TWO: WHAT IS ‘ORIGINAL’ PERFORMANCE?

    What I want to challenge is the idea of style and what ‘original’ performance means. When we look at old music, like the one of the Baroque period for example, the only way we could imagine how that music was played in its own time is through written sources. We don’t have recordings from that time and too many generations stand between now and then to be able to rely on historical continuance. During the pandemic, I read a lot of the historical classical treatises and realised that, even if they are very precise, they say completely contradictory things. This is because taste is something that, like today, changes quickly but also because individual musicianship always has, in a way, been stronger than performance ‘rules.’

    To prove this, I included two different recordings of the first movement of Mahler 4, by two composers who knew Mahler personally and who spent much of their lives studying and performing Mahler symphonies. Both recordings are with the same orchestra, the Concertgebouw orchestra in Amsterdam, and they are just seven years apart, one from 1939 and the other 1946. Mengelberg knew Mahler well and he had been Chief Conductor of the Concertgebouw for 50 years! Bruno Walter, on the other hand, met Mahler when he was 18 and later became his assistant in Vienna, working with him for more than 10 years. Despite this common, direct link with Mahler himself – making both very ‘original’ and connected to the source – the two performances are incredibly different in terms of tempo, phrasing, rubato and sound. Which one is the closest to Mahler? Nobody can know…

    Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.4 in G I. Bedächtig. Nicht eilen –Recht gemächlich
    Willem Mengelberg Conductor

    The Dutch conductor Mengelberg interprets Mahler’s fourth symphony. Listen to the rubato, the glissatos and the nuances!

    Gustav MAHLER Symphony No.4 in G I. Bedachtig, nicht eilen
    Bruno Walter Conductor

    Here Mahler’s assistant, Bruno Walter, shows how different the same music can sound! This interpretation seems to follow the classical tradition of Mozart and Beethoven, with the flare of Romanticism.

    PART THREE: MEMORIES AND FAVOURITES

    I’ve included a recording of the first Rachmaninov piano trio, the first professional CD I made 20 years go with my former piano trio, the Trio di Torino. It was a time where there were still the resources to make recordings properly: in a great hall, having the time to find the right balance between musicality and precision.

    I could not avoid including something by the best conductor of all time, Carlos Kleiber: one movement from Beethoven’s seventh symphony and the Feldermaus Overture.

    The last two pieces of the playlist are both for Tchaikovsky but there is something specific about them: Mravinsky dedicated his life to this Russian repertoire and had been the chief conductor of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic for 50 years! So, despite sounding a bit drier, more ‘classical’ and less ‘romantic’ than what we have in mind about Tchaikovsky, I think this is much closer to the composer’s language than the ‘stereotype’ of his music.

    The last piece is the first movement of the Tchaikovsky string serenade, conducted by the Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa. In the last 20 years, this repertoire became very often played and toured by chamber orchestras of 15 / 20 players, without a conductor. In my opinion, this agile set up has more cons than pros. If you listen the sound of 55 string players together you’ll agree with me that it is a completely different experience.

    Sergei RACHMANINOV Trio Élégiaque In G Minor For Violin, Cello And Piano, op. 9. Lento Lugubre
    Trio Di Torino

    I recorded this Rachmaninov CD when I was 20. At the time, my 15-year relationship with the Trio Di Torino had just started! I’m still happy about it…

    Johann STRAUSS II Die Fledermaus Overture
    Carlos Kleiber Conductor

    The best conductor of all time, at least for me and the majority of conductors, here conducts the overture of Fledermaus, a famous operetta by Johan Strauss. The Viennese essence condensed in few minutes!

    Ludwig van BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A Major, op. 92 IV. Allegro con brio
    Carlos Kleiber Conductor

    The energy, the constant, imperceptible push forward, the amazing balancing of a tricky and loud movement – the finale to Beethoven’s seventh symphony. Unreachable!

    Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.5 In E Minor, op. 64, TH.29 I. Andante – Allegro con anima
    Evgeny Mravinsky Conductor

    If you always thought that Tchaikovsky’s music (like Rachmaninov) is mostly about melodies and extra-cheesy rubatos, maybe this recording will make you change your mind. In this recording, the narrative, the balance, the form, makes it sound like he is Mozart’s grandchild!

    Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade for Strings in C, op. 48 I. Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo – Allegro moderato
    Seiji Ozawa Conductor

    Last piece in the mixtape, another peak by Tchaikovsky. Listen to 60 strings playing together, pure silk and power!

    Curator profile: Umberto Clerici

    Briefly introduce yourself – tell us your name, your instrument, where you’re living and how you’re connected to the CSO. 


    My name is Umberto Clerici, I play the cello and I conduct, I’m originally from the North of Italy, Torino, but I’ve been living in Sydney almost seven years as the Principal Cello of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. I played for the first time with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in 2017 thanks to the invitation of a dear friend and a musician that I strongly respect, Nicholas Milton. Since then, I’ve been back to the CSO almost every year.

    How did you come to be a musician?

    I was introduced to music by chance when I was five years old. My parents are both non-musicians and they wanted my brother (now a violinist) and I to have a musical education: music provides discipline, a sense of sacrifice, a sense of belonging to a group – in a way it is an example of a democratic ‘micro-society’ at his best, where everybody contributes actively and simultaneously toward the same goal. So I went to the excellent Suzuki school of the city and I had to pick one instrument, either the violin or the cello. Being quite an impetuous character, I though the cello could be less fragile and more able to deal with me. Here I am after 34 years!

    Tell us a bit about someone who had a formative influence on you in your creative development.

    I think learning is a state of mind and not something reserved for a period of our life when we are younger. I still enjoy being able to discover new elements in music, even from completely different points of view.

    With this in mind, the person in the last 10 years who probably made the biggest impression in my way of thinking about music is the Hungarian pianist / ‘guru’ Ferenc Rados, whose musical philosophy is so abstract and complex that I remember not being able to understand almost anything he was saying for quite a while. There are teachers who can make you play or understand better immediately, within the same lesson: you come in with a piece of music and you get out after an hour playing that piece better. Usually this technique is very practical, based on some technical suggestions and some positive reinforcement and works best with younger and inexperienced musicians. Rados is the opposite – you are lucky if you don’t play MUCH worse after an hour with him! But six months later, something clicks and your mind switches to a different level of understanding.

    What’s the hardest part about being a musician?

    To me the most difficult part about being a musician is remaining honest with the purpose of art. It is good to be busy, ‘well paid’ and recognised but art exists to elevate us, to make us better, freer and more relevant as human beings. It should encourage social debate on ethics and aesthetics and not just be one of the possible varieties of entertainment.

    Tell us about your favourite performance space.

    It’s probably the Music Verein in Vienna – the acoustic is great and it looks amazing for the kind of music we play (when you imagine either a Beethoven symphony or a Johann Strauss waltz you can’t avoid visualising that golden, highly decorated hall).

    It’s also my favourite for what it represents. I remember playing the Saint-Saëns cello concerto there; a member of the orchestra told me that a few years before, after a renovation, they had noticed that the acoustic was not as good as before. When they tried to understand what the main reason could be, they thought of how the ground floor, originally empty, was now hosting a library and the musical archive, with a new café open to the public – filling that space might have absorbed some of the resonance in the wooden hall. So, the city council decided to empty it again and, suddenly, the sound came back to the original shine! They decided to keep it empty and relocate everything somewhere else. Despite the premium real estate in the centre of crowded Vienna
and the costs of the previous renovation, they decided to privilege the acoustics and the music.

    For what in life do you feel most grateful?

    Being able to do what I love and what I studied for. In a world obsessed with personal income and collecting things (from real estate to objects), I see so many miserable people doing a job, for 40 years, that they don’t like and within which they don’t recognise themselves, gaining neither joy nor satisfaction.
 Money can act like a drug but doesn’t provide the joy of fulfilment.

    Name something meaningful you’ve received as a gift – what made it special?

    Four years ago, my wife Sophie gave me, for my birthday, a beautiful baton engraved with a quote from the Don Quixote’s writer, Miguel de Cervantes, that says: ‘Where there’s music, there can be no evil.’ At that time, I didn’t have any plans to conduct and my previous cello agent was quite angry about it, thinking that it could be something to detract from my cello career. Four years later I’m spending much more time studying scores than playing the cello. And I changed agents…

    What’s something you’d like to achieve this year? How about in ten years?

    This year, with the impossibility of live performing, I finally had so much more time to do the readings and studies that I postponed for many years. I also had the chance to properly deepen and revise my conducting technique: even though I had been conducting quite a lot for the last couple of years, I never really had the time to go deep in subtle movements and how these are related not only with a musical instinct but also with what each musician in an orchestra needs.

    I have always thought that the conductor, as musical guidance and inspiration among very skilled and professional musicians, was a ‘job’ for the second half of a musical life. The 20 years I have spent playing the cello – between solo, chamber music and in the orchestra, playing all over the world – helps me to better understand the repertoire and the psychology of the players and create for them the ‘infrastructure’ that enables the music making.

    I hope, in 10 years time, that I’ll have fully explored this new chapter.

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