Sinfonia Concertante & Suite For Cello Solo & Sonata For Cello Solo

Pieter Wispelwey

Original Recording Format: DSD 64
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Prokofiev was a musical polyglot and chameleon and his Sinfonia Concertante is a continent without borders, a journey through style, language, time and tradition, like a postmodernist statement avant la lettre. A more than thorough reworking of a Thirties cello concerto became a postwar Cyclopean piece full of contrasts: dark and light, animalistic and ethereal, cruel and tender, serious and sardonic, rugged and sophisticated, a feast to play and an orgy to witness. The three movements are spectacularly diverse. An atavistic opening movement is followed by a second movement that starts off as a concerto allegro, but then keeps expanding, practically into a concerto by itself, with an abundance of all kinds of neo-classical, anarchistic and ‘danse macabre’ elements, with elaborate, utterly expressive lyrical episodes and of course that outrageous cadenza. The third movement is a mixture of the pompous, the absurdist and the capricious. Something like a theme and variations set up is interrupted by a string of little dances with references to Mahler and Kurt Weill. The main theme returns in a mighty tutti version and after two further, more atmospheric and alienating variations, the movement works its way towards some sort of a threefold final climax, consisting of an orchestral cataclysm in combination with a soloist delirium. In other words lots of Twenties, Thirties, lots of nineteenth century, Mongolia, Asia, Middle Europe, Slava, Stalin, euphoria, psychosis and beauty. Too much to mention. The attraction for cellists lies in the phenomenal technical challenge, the lyrical intensity and the many different roles the soloist, as the main character in this epic, has to play. A great fighting spirit is asked for. If things go well and the dragon is down at the end, the satisfaction is enormous. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be Slava for forty minutes? The presence and inspiration of the big man is all over the piece. For this live recording, to have the support of Vassily Sinaisky and this orchestra, that has a decade of Gergiev behind it, was a tremendous privilege. They were exciting days. The choice for the two solo encores, Tcherepnin and Crumb was made to give two examples on a totally different scale from the same early postwar years in which the Concertante was written. The Tcherepnin particularly, is almost on a miniaturist scale. Pieter Wispelwey


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Sinfonia Concertante, opus 125 - Andante
Sinfonia Concertante, opus 125 - Allegro giusto
Sinfonia Concertante, opus 125 - Andante con moto
Suite for cello solo - I Quasi Cadenza (quarter note =80)
Suite for cello solo - II quarter note = 90
Suite for cello solo - III eighth note = 42
Suite for cello solo - IV Vivace (quarter note = 104)
Sonata for cello solo - Fantasia_ Andante espressivo e con molto rubato Tema pastorale con variazion
Sonata for cello solo - Tema_ grazioso e delicato
Sonata for cello solo - Var. I_ Un poco più animato
Sonata for cello solo - Var.II_ Allegro possibile e sempre pizzicato
Sonata for cello solo - Var. III_ Poco adagio e molto espressivo_Coda
Sonata for cello solo - Toccata_ Largo e drammatico

Total time: 00:59:41

Additional information





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van den Hul

Digital Converters

Meitner A/D DSD / Meitner DA

Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks

Mastering Equipment

B&W 803 diamond series


Bruel & Kjaer, Schoeps

Mixing Board

Rens Heijnis custom design




Original Recording Format


Jared Sacks

Recording Engineer

Prokofiev – Erdo Groot, solo works – Daan van Aalst

Recording location

Rotterdam Holland

Recording Software

Pyramix bij Merging

Recording Type & Bit Rate



Audiolab, Holland

Release DateJanuary 20, 2014

Press reviews

American Record Guide

Wispelwey can always be heard clearly; his intonation is generally good, and he’s put a lot of thought into how he varies his tone on the different phrases… His playing is detailed and expressive.(…)

Res Musica

Le son puissant et mat du musicien néerlandais correspondant parfaitement aux exigences de cette partition sombre et sa technique imparable fait un sort au défi que représente cette pièce hérissée de difficultés. L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Rotterdam qui depuis les années Gergiev connaît bien les moindres recoins de la musique russes, offre une belle palette de couleurs et un engagement total sous la baguette d’un autre chef russe: Vassily Sinaisky. (…)

En complément, l’artiste propose deux petits bis. Il s’agit de partitions contemporaines à la symphonie concertante: une Suite de Tcherepnine et la Sonate pour violoncelle seul de George Crumb. Deux partitions qui sonnent de manière fort différente mais qui témoignent de la curiosité et le la largesse d’esprit du musicien.

De Gelderlander

Wispelwey, verzekerd van een temperamentvolle begeleiding door het Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, voelt zich hier als een vis in het water en tekent voor een klassieke uitvoering. Indrukkend is ook de aanvulling met werken van Tsjerepnin en Crumb.


Wispelwey comes closest to the mark in Prokofiev’s troublesome concerto (…)
Awards 2009

Audiophile Audition

Maybe the finest sound ever given to the Prokofiev. Pieter is one of the greatest cellists currently sawing away, and his command of this music is evident. If you want a particularly virtuosic performance in fantastic sound, this Channel Classics release won’t let you down.

BBC Music Magazine

very impressive achievement (…)
(…) Wispelwey is particularly good at creating a sense of coherence in the cadenza passages (…)
(…) The two unaccompanied cello pieces provide an extremely enterprising coupling. Wispelwey draws wonderfully haunting melodic line through the
Oriental inflections of the Tcherepnin, while the Crumb, an early work by Bartok, is no less compelling.

Klassieke Zaken

vrijwel iedere noot ademt een innige vertrouwdheid met het instrument. Wispelwey toont zich technisch heer en meester (…)
een aanrader!

The Philadelphia Inquier

) excellent new performance which is truly able to encompass the sprawling piece. No Prokofiev gesture is too large or oblique for Wispelwey to find any number of telling details. (…)

Opus Klassiek

Wispelwey pakt de Sinfonia Concertante overrompelend aan. De celloklank is rijk en sonoor, de vele voetangels en klemmen die Prokofjev – op Rostropovitsj’ vakkundig advies – listig heeft opgesteld, gaat hij onverschrokken te lijf. Hij pakt de scherpe randjes met volle handen aan, zonder dat de vele subtiele details en de lyrische component eronder lijden, integendeel. Het Rotterdams Philharmonisch onder Sinaiski laat horen hoe het dankzij Gergjev geleerd heeft Prokofjev te spelen: ritmisch scherp, sardonisch en al evenmin als Wispelwey bang uitgevallen. (…)

(…) Interessant vind ik de sonate van George Crumb, een nogal onkarakteristiek jeugdwerk uit 1958, maar spannend van begin tot eind. En dat komt vast ook door het superieure spel van Wispelwey. Je komt er niet gauw van los. De opnameklank van deze hybride sacd is mooi, ruimtelijk, voordelig voor de celloklank en mooi doortekend in het orkest.


Luister en bewonder de solistisch capaciteiten van Wispewey op zijn ‘Guadagnini’ cello

Opus HD

The cellist Pieter Wispelwey is, once again, in total harmony with these three composers, and his playing offers the perfect mix of inspiration that is both profound and spontaneous, as is Prokofiev’s score, which he describes as such: “Prokofiev was a musical polyglot. His Concerto Symphony is a continent without borders, a trip through style, language, time and tradition, like post-modernism before post-modernism, savage, classic, exotic, frenzied, surprising, and of course Russian.” Here then is an impressive SACD, with a delightful combination of works, that cannot be ignored.

Opus HD

een stuk dat op leven en dood moet worden bevochten, maar de musicus die aan de reis begint, wacht de verbluffendste avonturen. Pieter Wispelwey, opzwepend gesecondeerd door het Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest ging de uitdaging aan en de liveopname zorgt voor veertig buitengewoon enerverende minuten. Wat een grandeur, wat een verlokking, wat een inkervende emotionaliteit ParoolLe violoncelliste Pieter Wispelwey est, une nouvelle fois, en harmonie totale avec ces trois compositeurs, et son jeu offre la parfaite mesure d’une inspiration à la fois profonde et spontanée. A l’image de la partition de Prokofiev qu’il décrit ainsi : « Prokofiev était un polyglotte musical. Sa symphonie Concertante est un continent sans frontière, un voyage à travers style, langage, temps et tradition, tel un état postmoderne avant la lettre, sauvage, classique, exotique, effréné, surprenant et naturellement russe ». Voici donc un SACD de premier plan, au couplage plus que réjouissant, que l’on ne saurait ignorer.


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