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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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20 years old and a brazen amount of talent: the Afro-British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason has three idols. Cellists Jacqueline du Pré and Mstislav Rostropovitch and reggae legend Bob Marley, three passionate and extrovert forces. His career really took off after he performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018. His album Inspiration released the same year broke all sorts of sales records in the United Kingdom and his hometown of Nottingham even named a bus after him. As part of a partnership with the label Decca, he is back with a new recording, this time dedicated to the famous Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra headed by their new conductor, Sir Simon Rattle. A first class encounter which produces a poetic vision, almost like chamber music, of this renowned concerto. Made famous by Jacqueline du Pré’s versions (with Barbirolli then with her husband Daniel Barenboim), Elgar’s Concerto is accompanied on the track listing by other shorter pieces which were popular among soloists and music lovers alike a century ago, which the younger generation is bringing back in vogue. The album features arrangements of traditional music and works by Bloch, Elgar, Bridge, Fauré and Klengel. From the infinitely large to the infinitely small with the staggering virtuosity of this bright young talent. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 26, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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The British classical scene has a tendency toward musicians and singers of unusual backgrounds, who are lauded and marveled at and then discarded until the next one comes along. But there are strong indications that the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the first non-white winner of the BBC Young Musicians competition, will have staying power beyond the norm. The "Inspiration" title is more than just a general one: the program pays tribute to Kanneh-Mason's role models, including Mstislav Rostropovich, who premiered the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1, Op. 107, Jacqueline du Pré, who was associated with the French repertory heard here, Pablo Casals, and Bob Marley, whose No Woman No Cry is heard in a delightful chamber arrangement for multiple cellos. Kanneh-Mason succeeds more in the Shostakovich than in the little-known Offenbach pieces here, really catching the venom of the finale. But throughout, he shows the capacity to make a distinct personal statement, which is unusual in a teenage musician, and which is more important than technical precocity or the beauty of tone he produces from his 1610 Amati instrument. Kanneh-Mason has worked with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and others to create arrangements that reveal group cooperation and a sense of investment in the project rather than the phoned-in standard performances endemic to projects of this type. He's definitely one to watch, and his Shostakovich can stand with anyone's.
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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 26, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 10, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 1, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 9, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released August 1, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released October 29, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, just 20 years old when this album was recorded in 2019, can be forgiven for taking a bit of a breather with this, his sophomore release. After all, he had been riding a wave of celebrity nearly unprecedented for a young classical musician: an appearance with his siblings on "Britain's Got Talent" in 2015, the BBC Young Musician award (the first black player so honored) the following year and a performance before an audience of three billion at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. The Elgar album largely follows the pattern of Kanneh-Mason's debut, Inspiration, which featured a 20th century repertory concerto (there, the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 107, here, the Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85) surrounded by smaller works. Here, the encore-type pieces are laid on a bit thick: most are arranged from their original form. It's true the cello repertory is a bit sparse, but the chamber cello arrangements on this album have a certain sentimental sameness. However, there is no doubting the talents of Kanneh-Mason. He already has a unique dark, warm tone that commands attention on his terms, and his performance in the Elgar Cello Concerto, sensitively backed by the London Symphony under Sir Simon Rattle, is solid. Kanneh-Mason has said that he was inspired to take up the work by Jacqueline du Pré's classic 1960s recording, but he does not mimic her highly emotional approach. Instead, he applies his burnished tone evenly and seeks longer lines, unearthed through repeated performances of the concerto before he recorded it. It's certainly a worthwhile and original reading of the concerto, and it whets the listener's appetite to hear Kanneh-Mason in Beethoven, Dvořák, and the rest of the standard cello repertory that he has easily earned the right to address.
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Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released November 6, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released February 10, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released April 14, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released January 9, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released April 14, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released July 1, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Classical - Released November 28, 2019 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Classical - Released August 1, 2017 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Classical - Released January 3, 2020 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason in the magazine
  • Sheku Kanneh-Mason takes on Elgar
    Sheku Kanneh-Mason takes on Elgar The Nottingham cellist throws himself at Edward Elgar's famous concerto, supported by Sir Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony Orchestra...