Raphael Wallfisch is one of the leading English cellists of his generation. His repertory is vast, taking in 19th century staples by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Dvorák, as well as 20th century standards by Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Respighi, and Barber. Yet he has also focused much attention on works by British composers, too, from Elgar, Delius, and Bax to Maxwell Davies, MacMillan, Simpson, and Tavener. Wallfisch has recorded extensively for many labels, including Chandos, Nimbus, and Naxos. Wallfisch was born in London on June 15, 1953. His mother was a cellist and his father a pianist. Young Raphael, after studies on the violin and piano, turned to the cello at age eight. His list of teachers is impressive: at home he studied with Amaryllis Fleming (1967-1969) and Derek Simpson (at the Royal Academy of Music from 1970-1973), and abroad with Amadeo Baldovino (Italy; 1969) and Gregor Piatigorsky (the U.S.). It was through his studies with Piatigorsky in California that he was given the opportunity to perform in several private recitals with Jascha Heifetz. Wallfisch won first prize in Florence, Italy, at the Gaspar Cassadò International Cello Competition in 1977. Thereafter, his career grew in several directions: as a soloist he regularly appeared in recitals and with British orchestras; in 1980 he began a 12-year stint playing in a duo with his father, Peter, while serving as a professor of music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He would later teach cello at the Zürich Winterthur Konservatorium and Hochschule in Mainz, Germany. In the 1980s Wallfisch gained an international reputation from his appearances throughout Europe and the U.S. In 1982 he started a long relationship with the English label Chandos: among his earliest recordings were a coupling of the Barber Cello Concerto and the Shostakovich First Cello Concerto (1982) and a disc of Tchaikovsky works that included the original version of the Rococo Variations (1983). Over the next decade or so he would make more than 20 recordings for Chandos. Since the 1990s he has branched out his recording activity to include other labels. Among later recordings is his two-disc set of the complete works for cello by Shostakovich on Nimbus (2006). Shostakovich was also featured, along with J.S. Bach and Tchaikovsky, in his successful concert tours of the U.K. and Germany in the fall of 2006. Further efforts included recordings of Zemlinsky's Cello Sonata (2007) and the cello sonatas of Chopin, Laks, and Szymanowski (2010).
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Concertos - Released November 1, 2004 | Chandos
For admirers of Steuart Bedford's recordings of the music of Benjamin Britten, this re-release of his 1984 recordings of the Symphony for cello and orchestra with his arrangement of a concert suite from Death in Venice will be gratefully received. Bedford had been anointed by Peter Pears, Britten's musical executor, as a Britten interpreter and even allowed to create the concert suite. Bedford's conducting is surely more assured than Britten's in general, but his interpretations were clearly steeped in Britten's interpretations. Bedford's performance of the Symphony with cellist Raphael Wallfisch has all the essential characteristics of Britten's with Rostropovich. Both are powerfully dramatic, deeply lyrical, and ultimately elegiac performances and the brawny tone, rugged sonorities, and muscular rhythms so characteristic of Britten and Rostropovich's interpretation are likewise characteristic of Bedford and Wallfisch's interpretation. But while Bedford and Wallfisch's performance is brilliantly played and very convincing, Britten and Rostropovich's performance is transcendently played and truly compelling. Bedford's performance of his own Death in Venice suite is closer to compelling. While his suite has the dramatic shape of the opera and his performance had the essential character of Britten's, his interpretation is his own. Bedford's interpretation is as luminously despairing as the opera, it has the convictions of its compulsions. The early digital sound is surprisingly lush and full. © TiVo
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