Accompanied by the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the French conductor Stéphane Denève (b. 1971), the award-winning French cellist Bruno Philippe performs Antonín Dvořák's Cello Concerto in B minor, Op.104. The concert was recorded at Palais Des Beaux-arts, Henry Le Boeuf Hall, on June 2, 2017.
Opus 104 was Dvořák's second and final attempt at writing a cello concerto. The first, a 50-minute work in A major, was written very early in his career (1865), when his style was still markedly derived from those of his models – of which Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert are most notable. He had also recently encountered the music of Richard Wagner, which perhaps helps to explain the grand scale of the work. The resulting effort was not very satisfactory to the composer, and Dvořák never bothered to orchestrate it; he would not attempt to write another (the work at hand) until thirty years later, after he had written all nine of his symphonies (not to mention numerous operatic, choral, orchestral, chamber, piano, and vocal works). Upon reading through the finished product, completed in February 1895, Dvořák's colleague and friend, Brahms, is said to have remarked, "Why on earth didn't I know that one could write a cello concerto like this? Had I known, I would have written one long ago".
The first performance was given in 1896 in London under Dvořák's own direction, with Leo Stern as the soloist. The cellist was to have been Hanus Wihan (a close friend of the composer, to whom the work was dedicated), but there were misunderstandings surrounding Wihan's suggested revisions (including the addition of a last-movement cadenza) to the publisher without the composer's consent. Wihan did eventually perform the work, as did many other artists; the concerto has retained a solid place in the modern repertory.
Although the Concerto's solo part is demanding, the work is by no means a bravura showpiece. Instead, the orchestra and soloist form an integral whole; Dvorák's refusal to accept Wihan's somewhat flashy revisions to the solo part show that he was determined to make the piece much more than a vehicle for virtuosity. Throughout the work there is a freshness of invention and sense of inevitable direction that betrays nothing of the thorough and painstaking revisions Dvorák himself undertook; it seems instead to have flowed effortlessly from the composer's pen.
The first movement (Allegro) is constructed around two main themes, the first of which (in B minor) is surprisingly brief, and the second of which (largely pentatonic, stated by solo horn), was one of the composer's personal favorites. The passing of these ideas back and forth between the soloist and orchestra allows for substantial thematic development; the first, brief theme is given substantially more weight in the eventual recapitulation.
In contrast to the dynamic first movement, the second (Adagio, ma non troppo) opens with a more peaceful theme in G major. A middle section in G minor incorporates the melody from Dvorák's own song, "Leave me alone" – a favorite tune of his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzova, who had taken ill during the Concerto's composition. Dvorák was very devoted to her, and her death not long after his return home would cause him to revise the end of the work to include the same song in a lengthy epilogue. The finale (Allegro moderato) is an energetic rondo, followed by an epilogue which recalls the opening of the first movement, as well as the song mentioned above.
Source: Allen Schrott (allmusic.com)
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
♪ Cello Concerto in B minor, Op.104 (1894-1895)
ii. Adagio, ma non troppo
iii. Finale: Allegro moderato – Andante – Allegro vivo
Bruno Philippe, cello
Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Stéphane Denève
Final round of the Queen Elizabeth Competition 2017 | Brussels, Palais Des Beaux-arts, Henry Le Boeuf Hall, June 2, 2017
Bruno Philippe was born in 1993 in Perpignan, France. There, he began studying the cello with Marie-Madeleine Mille and regularly attended Yvan Chiffoleau's masterclasses. In 2008, he pursued his studies at the CRR in Paris in the class of Raphael Pidoux. In 2009 he was unanimously accepted by the Paris National Conservatory of Music and Dance in the class of Jerome Pernoo and joined Claire Desert's chamber music class. Subsequently, he participated in the masterclasses of David Geringas, Steven Isserliss, Gary Hoffman, Pieter Wispelwey and Clemens Hagen at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Since October 2014, he has been studying as a young soloist at the Kronberg Academy with Frans Helmerson.
In November 2011, he won the third Grand Prix and the Best recital at the André Navarra International Competition. In September 2014, he won the third prize and audience prize at the International Competition of the ARD in Munich. He won a Special Prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in June 2015 and the Special Prize in recognition of an outstanding performance at the Grand Prix Emmanuel Feuermann in Berlin in November 2014. In 2015, Bruno Philippe was appointed Révélation Classique of the ADAMI, and in 2016, he won the Prix pour la musique of the Safran Foundation dedicated to cello. In 2017, he is laureate of the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels.
Bruno Philippe has been invited to appear at the Kammersaal of the Berlin Philharmonia, La Cité de la Musique, the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris, the Halle aux Grains in Toulouse, the Kursaal in Besançon, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt and to play with the Bayerische Rundfunk, the Münchener Kammerorchestrer, the Orchestre Philarmonique de Monte-Cazrlo, or else the Orchestre National du Capitole, Toulouse. He has also performed at the Festival Pablo Casals in Prades, the Festival de Pâques in Aix-en-Provence, La Folle Journée de Nantes, the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, the Festival Radio France de Montpellier, at La Roque d'Anthéron, the Amsterdam Cello Biennale, the Mozartfest Würzburg, the Munich BR Studio, Schwetzinger SWR-Festspiele, the Rheingau Musik Festival...
He has also had the chance to play with many renowned musicians: Gary Hoffman, Tabea Zimmermann, Gidon Kremer, Christian Tetzlaff, David Kadouch, Alexandra Conounova, Renaud Capuçon, Jérôme Ducros, Antoine Tamestit, Sarah Nemtanu, Lise Berthaud, Christophe Coin, Jérôme Pernoo, Raphaël Pidoux, Emmanuelle Bertrand, as well as Violoncelles Français or Les Dissonances (David Grimal).
During the next few months, Bruno Philippe can be seen in concertos, above all with the Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt and Orchesterakademy of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, with the Orchestre Dijon-Bourgogne conducted by Gabor Takacs-Nagy, with the Orchestre de la Garde Républicaine or else the Junges Sinfonieorchester Münster. He will be performing at the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Auditorium du Louvre in Paris, the Alte Oper in Francfort, Salle Cortot in Paris, the Festival de Pâques de Deauville, the Chorégies d'Orange, or else Les Victoires de la Musique Classique at the Auditorium de Radio-France, Paris.
His first album, devoted to Brahms's Sonatas, recorded with the pianist Tanguy de Williencourt for the Evidence Classic label, came out in 2015. In 2017 he joins the label Harmonia Mundi and releases a new album around Beethoven and Schubert's sonatas, with Tanguy de Williencourt.
He was also awarded scholarships from the Safran Foundation for music, the Raynaud-Zurfluh Foundation, the Rheingold Foundation, the AMOPA, the Banque Populaire Foundation, and in August 2014 won the Nicolas Firmenich price at the Verbier Festival. He also received the support of the "Christa Verhein-Stiftung" for his studies at the Kronberg Academy.
Bruno Philippe plays a fine Tononi cello kindly loaned to him through the Beare's International Violin Society.
Bruno Philippe & Tanguy de Williencourt interpret Ludwig van Beethoven & Franz Schubert (Audio video)
Johannes Brahms & Robert Schumann: Works for cello and piano – Bruno Philippe, Tanguy de Williencourt (Audio video)
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Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto No.1 in C major – Bruno Philippe, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Christoph Eschenbach (HD 1080p)
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Leonard Elschenbroich, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Ken-David Masur
Antonín Dvořák: Cello Concerto in B minor – Daniel Müller-Schott, Danmarks Radio SymfoniOrkestret, Dmitrij Kitajenko