Accompanied by the Berliner Camerata, the Cuban-Chinese-American cellist Sophia Bacelar performs Camille Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor, Op.33, arranged for cello and string orchestra by Olga Pak. Recorded live at the Berliner Philharmonie, on January 22, 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) (arr. for cello and string orchestra by Olga Pak)
i. Allegro non troppo [0:37]*
ii. Allegretto con moto [6:22]
iii. Tempo primo [11:24]
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
♪ Nocturne Op.19 No.4 (1873) [21:20]
Sophia Bacelar, cello
(HD 4K / 2160p)
* Start time of each movement
Cuban-Chinese-American cellist Sophia Bacelar is quickly gaining recognition as one of classical music's young rising stars. Recent seasons saw her debuts as soloist at renowned venues such as The Berliner Philharmonie and The Tonhalle Zürich, a series of six concerts broadcast by Medici.tv at the auditorium of La Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris as one of the laureates of the prestigious "Classe d'Excellence de Violoncelle" of Gautier Capuçon, and various solo performances throughout North America, South America, and Europe.
Sophia has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Berliner Philharmonie, The Tonhalle Zürich, Le Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Victoria Hall, Cité de la Musique, and Alice Tully Hall, among others, and has appeared in several renowned festivals, including Festival Napa Valley, The Seiji Ozawa International Academy, The Mendelssohn Festival, and The Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. She has also been a laureate of several international competitions, with most recent prizes including 2nd Prize at the Berliner International Competition (2017), 2nd Prize at the Janigro International Competition (2016), and the Mondavi Center's Career Development Award (2015).
Sophia is passionate about promoting classical music to a new, younger generation of listeners, as well as bringing it to less-reached communities throughout the world. After being inspired by the positive response of audiences during her experiences performing in South America and after concerts broadcast online, Sophia decided to aim to broaden the reach of her music by introducing it in alternative venues and through contemporary mediums. Among her past and current projects include a series of live-streamed concerts in cooperation with Classeek Music, community outreach projects and concerts with children in South America, performances in nightclubs such as Le Poisson Rouge, and collaborations with musicians outside the traditionally classical sphere, including Jazz pianist/composer Dan Tepfer and various electronic musicians. In addition, she maintains an active social media presence on her Instagram account, @sophiabacelar.
Born in 1996 in the United States, Sophia began her musical studies at the age of two. At the age of ten, she was accepted to The Juilliard School, where she studied under the tutelage of Clara Kim for six years. After graduating at age 16, Sophia went on to further her studies at Le Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris in the class of Philippe Muller, from which she graduated two years later. During the 2016-2017 season, she also worked under the mentorship of Gautier Capuçon at La Fondation Louis Vuitton as part of the "Classe d'Excellence de Violoncelle". She is currently pursuing her graduate studies at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in the class of Nicolas Altstaedt. Other close musical mentors have included composer Kendall Durelle Briggs, pianist Noreen Polera, and Bernard Greenhouse, with whom Sophia studied privately for several years.
In addition to music, Sophia studied visual arts for several years, is an avid reader, and is enthusiastic about food, health, and fitness; when not occupied with her musical activities, she devotes the majority of her spare time to these interests.
Frank Bridge: Cello Sonata in D minor – Sophia Bacelar, Daniela Hlinková (HD 4K)
Claude Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano in D minor – Sophia Bacelar, Daniela Hlinková (HD 4K)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Vocalise – Sophia Bacelar, Daniela Hlinková (HD 4K)
Camille Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No.1 in A minor – Nicolas Altstaedt, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Matthias Foremny (HD 1080p)