Accompanied by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester under the baton of the German conductor Matthias Foremny (b. 1972), the award-winning German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt (b. 1982) performs Camille Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.33. The concert was recorded at Beethoven-Saal, Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle, Stuttgart, on January 6, 2017.
Saint-Saëns's Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.33, was informed, certainly, by one friendship and possibly by another. As a student, he had been taught piano accompaniment by Auguste Franchomme, the cellist to whom Chopin had dedicated his cello sonata and who developed a particular light bowing technique usually described as "French". Another possible influence on the work was the death in January 1872 of his beloved great-aunt Charlotte at the age of ninety-one, after which he cancelled all engagements for a month. It is arguable that the tone of the work combines a lightness of touch with deep expressiveness, not least in what one biographer has called the "haunting otherworldliness" of its melodies.
Yet a third factor in the work might well have been the incipient recovery of Paris after the Franco-Prussian war and the Commune. In February 1871 the new Société Nationale de Musique, with Saint-Saëns as one of its founder members, had promoted its first concert under the banner "Ars gallica", and the impetus was thereby given to young French composers to outdo the Germans in every way possible. It was partly pressure from the Société that pushed the staid Concerts du Conservatoire into accepting the premiere of Saint-Saëns's first concerto on 19 January 1873, but more the request from the established cellist Auguste Tolbecque – without which, the conductor kindly informed the composer, the work would not have had a hope.
The first cello concerto has always been one of Saint-Saëns's most popular pieces, Casals choosing it for his London debut in 1905. Tunes abound, but not in any disorderly way: the main themes of the outer movements move upwards, the second themes downwards; if, that is, the opening cello motif can be called a "theme' – the composer's biographer Brian Rees refers to it as "an artefact rather than a melodious outburst". The central minuet is a movement of pure delight and, in those uncertain times, no doubt reassured Parisian audiences that French culture had after all survived, one critic remarking that here the composer was making up for a recent "divergence from classicism". The return of earlier material in the third movement may owe something to Saint-Saëns's study of the cyclic patterns found in Liszt, to whom he remained indebted all his life.
Source: Roger Nichols (hyperion-records.co.uk)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
♪ Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.33 (1872)
i. Allegro non troppo
ii. Allegretto con moto
iii. Tempo primo
Nicolas Altstaedt, cello
Conductor: Matthias Foremny
Beethoven-Saal, Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Liederhalle, Stuttgart, January 6, 2017
Renowned worldwide for his musical integrity and effortless virtuosity German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt (b. 1982) is one of the most sought after and versatile artists today. As a soloist, conductor and artistic director of he enthralls audiences with repertoire spanning from the baroque to the contemporary.
At the beginning at the 2017-2018 season he performed the highly acclaimed Finnish Premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's new cello concerto under the baton of the composer at the Helsinki Festival. He will be Artist in Spotlight at the Concertgebouw in 2017-2018 and Artist in Residence 2018-2019 at the NDR Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, where is going to perform with Krzysztof Urbanski, Hannu Lintu and Christoph Eschenbach. Later on he will be touring major european venues with the SWR Orchestra with Teodor Currentzis, the BBCSO, La Chambre Philharmonique with Emanuel Krivine and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Further engagements include debuts performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Suntory Hall, Finnish Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin with Juraj Valcuha, the Scottish Chamber as Soloist and conductor, Orchestre National de Belgique, Hongkong Sinfonietta and Les Violons du Roy as well as returning to the Deutsche Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin with Robin Ticciati.
Awarded the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award in 2010, he gave a highly acclaimed performance of the Schumann concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel at the Lucerne Festival. Since then he has performed worldwide with orchestras such as the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne- and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras working with conductors like Sir Roger Norrington, Andrew Manze, Lahav Shani, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Fedosseev, Leif Segerstam, Dmitri Slobodeniouk, Alexander Shelley, Fabien Gabel, Joshua Weilerstein, Gustavo Gimeno, Giovanni Antonini and Andrea Marcon amongst many others.
In recital, Nicolas performs solo and with partners Fazil Say and Alexander Lonquich. He will tour both Europe and the US and will visit Istanbul, London Wigmore Hall, Bozar, Tonhalle Zurich, Koerner Hall Toronto, Theatre des Champs-Elysées, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and New York Carnegie Hall amongst others.
In Autumn 2017 Nicolas toured Australia extensively as part of a Musica Viva Recital tour with Aleksandar Madzar.
As a chamber musician, Nicolas regularly plays with Janine Jansen, Vilde Frang, Andreas Ottensamer, Pekka Kuusisto, Antoine Tamestit, Lawrence Power, Jonathan Cohen and the Quatuor Ébène performing at Salzburg Mozart and Summer Festival, Verbier, Utrecht, BBC Proms, Lucerne, Gstaad, Musikfest Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Rheingau and Stavanger.
In 2012 Nicolas has been chosen by Gidon Kremer to become his successor as the new artistic director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival and in 2014, Adam Fischer asked him to follow in his footsteps as Artistic Director of the Haydn Philharmonie, with whom he regularly performs at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Esterházy Festival and will tour both China and Japan in the next season.
Nicolas premieres new music and performs with composers like Thomas Ades, Jörg Widmann, Thomas Larcher, Matthias Pintscher, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Fazil Say. He has commissioned the pianist/composer Hauschka as part of this season as Artistic Director of "Viva Cello" Festival in Liestal in 2016 inspired by a film script by Federico Fellini as well composers Sebastian Fagerlund, Thomas Larcher, Bryce Dessner and Helena Winkelman for new cello concertos.
Nicolas' recent recording of CPE Bach Concertos on Hyperion with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen received the BBC Music Magazine Concerto Award 2017. This year, he released a Recital CD with Fazil Say on Warner. Previous recordings of cello concerti by Haydn, Schumann, Ligeti, Shostakovich and Weinberg have been acclaimed worldwide.
Nicolas Altstaedt was a BBC New Generation Artist 2010-2012 and a recipient of the "Borletti Buitoni Trust Fellowship" in 2009. He plays a Giulio Cesare Gigli cello, Rome around 1760.
German conductor Matthias Foremny has been first permanent guest conductor at the Opera Leipzig since 2011-2012 and chief conductor of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra since 2013-2014. In addition to his engagements in Leipzig and Stuttgart he serves as Professor of conducting at the Conservatorium "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" of Music in Leipzig.
He studied at the Colleges of Music in Detmold and Vienna. In 1995 he received the first prize of the "Prague Spring" international music competition followed by a sensational debut with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. His career in the opera pit started at Komische Oper Berlin with Ligeti's "Le grand Macabre". The production attracted enthusiastic worldwide attention and was honored with the important German award "Bayerischer Theaterpreis".
In 2002 Matthias Foremny became first prizewinner of the renowned German Music Competition ("Dirigentenforum") of "Deutscher Musikrat". From 2003 to 2012 he was General Music Director at the Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater Schwerin.
As guest conductor Matthias Foremny is closely linked to Deutsche Oper Berlin, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra Helsinki. In 2011-2012 he celebrated his very successful debut at NDR Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and at Hamburg State Opera – and was reengaged by each ensemble.
His energy and charisma way to conduct is continually convincing the musicians, audience and press. Matthias Foremny is also highly regarded for his support of education programs for young talented musicians. It is important for him to integrate audience in form of lecture-concerts, pre-concert talks, etc.
In the last two seasons 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 his engagements include – among others – two performances of "Ariadne of Naxos" at the Beijing Music Festival, a concert tour in China with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, a new production of "E Canterville Ghost/Pagliacci" as well as the premiere of "Tannhäuser" and "Le Nozze di Figaro" in Leipzig.
For the season 2016-2017 Matthias Foremny will – besides his engagements in Stuttgart and Leipzig – continue his collaborations with Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern. He will give guest performances with Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, Guangzhou and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. And in addition his debut performance at Cologne Opera (with Giacomo Puccini's "La Bohème").
Robert Schumann: Cello Concerto in A minor (Version for cello and string orchestra) – Nicolas Altstaedt, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra (HD 1080p)
Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.1 in C major – Nicolas Altstaedt, Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen (HD 1080p)
Johannes Brahms: Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor – Vilde Frang, Nicolas Altstaedt, Chaarts Chamber Artists (4K Ultra High Definition)
Ernest Bloch: Schelomo, Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra – Nicolas Altstaedt, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Lahav Shani (HD 1080p)