Cellist Guy Johnston has been among the most prominent players of his instrument in Britain since winning the coveted BBC Young Musician of the Year Award in 2000. He was born on May 7, 1981, in Harpenden outside London, where his parents operated a music shop and school. Johnston had a traditional English musical education that included singing (with his two brothers) in the choir at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and studying at its school. He studied cello at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester from 1996 to 1999 and then went on for further study at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, under Steven Doane. His other teachers have included Ralph Kirshbaum, Bernard Greenhouse, and Steven Isserlis. At one of his BBC Young Musician competition performances Johnston broke a string but came back to win. A nod as Young British Classical Performer of the Year at the 2002 Classic Brit Awards confirmed his connection with audiences. Johnston has served as Principal Guest Cello of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Guest Principal Cello of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam while also continuing to perform the core cello concerti with orchestras such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Britten Sinfonia, among others. His numerous concerto appearances have spanned the globe, including those at the First Night of the BBC Proms playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the St. Petersburg State Capella Orchestra under A.S. Dmitriev, and the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Osaka Philharmonic under Tadaaki Otaka in Tokyo. Johnston's debut recording, Milo, featuring works by Britten, Bridge, and Turnage, appeared on the Orchid Classics label and was critically acclaimed. He has recorded for various labels, including Dutton Laboratories, Naxos (E.J. Moeran's cello concerto), Alto, NMC, and, in 2017, the house label of his alma mater, the King's College Choir. That album included three works commissioned "as a gift" to his instrument, a 1714 David Tecchler cello, on the occasion of its 300th birthday. ~ James Manheim
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Classical - Released September 8, 2017 | Kings College Cambridge
This album is not, as might be supposed, the soundtrack to something, but rather the realization of a unique aim: Tecchler's cello is an instrument by the Roman builder David Tecchler, played by young British cellist Guy Johnston and celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2014. Johnston conceived the idea of commissioning new works as "gifts for the cello"; three such pieces are included here. Further, he traveled from Cambridge back to the cello's birthplace in Rome, making recordings in Cambridge, Paris, and Rome, of Beethoven, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and Ottorino Respighi, respectively. The new commissions were distributed among these sessions and interspersed with the larger works. As may be seen, the result is a large variety of music with multiple main strands that are not necessarily in harmony with each other. The commissioned composers don't respond with similar concepts; David Matthews in his Ein Celloleben evokes different historical periods, while Charlotte Bray in Perseus uses the letters of Tecchler's name as a basis for thematic material, and Mark Simpson's Un Regalo maximally exploits the cello's technical capabilities. The program does not really hang together, but it's enjoyable at many individual points; sample the brilliant, quick opening movement of Beethoven's Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 1 ("Ghost"). Above all, the sound of Johnston's Tecchler cello is indeed distinctively rich, and you get a glimpse in the booklet notes of how a musician gets to know an extraordinary new instrument. A unique release, and a recommended one.
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