Season highlights include:
60th Birthday concert at Wigmore Hall in December 2018 with Radu Lupu, Sir András Schiff, Joshua Bell, Connie Shih, Ferenc Rados, and Simon Keenlyside
Steven Isserlis directs the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 with Radu Lupu as soloist
Steven Isserlis presents a specially-devised new programme Composers and their Muses featuring works by three pairs of composers who inspired each other
A major exploration of Schumann and Fauré‘s chamber works at Wigmore Hall, in which Steven Isserlis is joined by friends including Isabelle Faust, Janine Jansen, Joshua Bell, Alexander Melnikov and Jeremy Denk
Artist in Residence series with Kammerakademie Potsdam Debuts with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Dresden Staatskapelle
Complete cycle of Beethoven’s music for cello and piano with Robert Levin on fortepiano
US trio tour with Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk in spring 2019 Tour of Japan in November 2018
Two album releases over the season: Chopin and Schubert with Dénes Várjon and Shostakovich, Prokofiev & Kabalevsky with Olli Mustonen
Internationally renowned British cellist Steven Isserlis marks his 60th birthday with a season featuring new programmes, two disc releases, international tours, and a special 60th Birthday celebration concert at Wigmore Hall, accompanied by an array of international guest artist friends. Isserlis continues to champion Schumann and Fauré, undertaking a major exploration of their chamber works throughout the season. He is also Artist in Residence with Kammerakadamie Potsdam and debuts with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Dresden Staatskapelle.
60th Birthday concert at Wigmore Hall
On 17 December 2018 at Wigmore Hall, Steven Isserlis is joined by a group of his closest musical friends in a special concert to celebrate his 60th birthday. Joining Isserlis are Radu Lupu (in a rare guest appearance), Sir András Schiff, Connie Shih, Ferenc Rados, Joshua Bell, and baritone Simon Keenlyside. For this programme, Isserlis has chosen works that have deep personal meaning to him, including pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and two composers whom Isserlis passionately champions, Schumann and Fauré.
Composers and their Muses with Connie Shih
Steven Isserlis presents a specially-devised new programme exploring three pairs of composers who provided mutual inspiration for each other’s compositions – Clara and Robert Schumann, Vitezslava Kaprálová and her teacher Martinů and Augusta Holmès and her teacher César Franck. The fruitful collaborations between these couples will be illustrated in the works within this programme, which features a piece by each composer. Composers and their Muses is performed with regular collaborator Connie Shih, with dates at Wells Cathedral School’s Cedars Hall on 27 September 2018 and Wigmore Hall on 29 September. In March 2019, Isserlis and Shih present the programme in the US and Germany, performing at New Jersey’s Princeton University (28 February), followed by three performances in the San Francisco area, at Walnut Creek (2 March), Herbst Theatre (3 March), and the Schultz Cultural Art Hall (4 March), and then Washington DC’s JFK Center for the Performing Arts (6 March). On 14 March, they will also perform the programme in Germany at the Kulturforum Franziskanerkloster in Kempen. Schumann / Fauré Project at Wigmore Hall
The season sees Isserlis continue his ongoing partnership with Wigmore Hall, leading an extensive exploration of the chamber music output of Schumann and Fauré, two composers of which he is an enthusiastic champion. During this series, Isserlis performs in four concerts, beginning on 17 November 2018 with Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Katharine Gowers and Rachel Roberts. The series continues in 2019, where Isserlis is joined by Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk and Timothy Ridout on 23 March, Janine Jansen, Amihal Grosz, Arisa Fujita and Connie Shih on 23 April, and Denes Varjon, Izabella Simon, Anthony Marwood, Irene Duval and Elvind Ringstad on 16 June, where the programme includes the first London performance of Fauré’s String Quartet arranged for piano four hands by Fauré and Cortot. Isserlis will also give a Masterclass on 28 March, and takes part in a pre-concert talk on Fauré’s String Quartet on 16 June.
Artist in Residence with Kammerakademie Potsdam
Isserlis is Kammerakademie Potsdam’s Artist in Residence in 2018/19, with five concerts across the season. The residency begins on 19 October 2018 at Germering’s Stadhalle where he play-directs a programme of Haydn, Boccherini and CPE Bach, also performing at Potsdam’s Friedenskirche on 21 October. On 9 February 2019 at Potsdam Nikolaisaal, he performs Saint-Saens’s Cello Concertos No 1 and No 2 conducted by Antonella Manacorda, as well as a children’s concert earlier that day. The residency draws to a close on 17 March 2019 at Potsdam Nikolaisaal, where Isserlis is joined by Connie Shih and soloists from the Kammerakademie in a chamber concert featuring works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Fauré.
Steven Isserlis releases two albums on Hyperion Records over the course of the season. On 28 September 2018, Isserlis and pianist Dénes Várjon release Chopin: Cello Sonata; Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata. The disc brings together two composers who became known as tragic figures having both died in their thirties, but whose work transformed the genres of piano music and song. In addition to the two sonatas, the disc also includes Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise brilliante, and a Nocturne by Chopin’s closest friend, and the dedicatee of the cello sonata, the cellist Franchomme, as well Isserlis’s arrangements of Schubert’s Nacht und Träume and Chopin’s Nie ma czego trzeba. The disc features Várjon performing on an 1851 Erard fortepiano.
In Spring 2019 Isserlis and pianist Olli Mustonen release Shostakovich, Prokofiev & Kabalevsky: Music for Cello and Piano. These three twentieth century Russian composers were near-contemporaries who shared the experience of living through the most repressive years of Stalinism. Their musical styles are very different; but they share a gift for powerful communication, and for expressing extremes of emotion throughout their music. The disc features Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata (the only standard work on the disc), Prokofiev’s early Ballade, and four rarities: Shostakovich's Moderato, Prokofiev’s Adagio from Cinderella, and Kabalevsky’s little-known Rondo in Memory of Prokofiev, as well as his magnificent Sonata, op 71.
Special concert with Radu Lupu in Lucerne
Steven Isserlis and Radu Lupu have an enduring personal friendship. Of Lupu, Isserlis told Gramophone magazine in 2015: “Radu Lupu is one of the greatest artists I have ever heard or known. His music comes from deep within, his performances the result of profound thinking and fervent emotion…Two of the greatest musical experiences of my life were hearing him play the Schubert B-flat Sonata and Schumann’s Kinderszenen”. On 21 June 2019 the two perform in a very special concert at the KKL Luzern Concert Hall with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, with Isserlis directing pieces including Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 in A, K488, with Lupu as soloist, and Schumann’s Romances op. 94, originally for oboe, but performed here for cello and piano. Isserlis also opens the concert play/directing JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3.
US trio tour with Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk
Steven Isserlis, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk are longtime friends and collaborators, the most recent joint collaboration being on the 2016 disc For the Love of Brahms, which featured the three performing the original version of Brahms’s Piano Trio in B major, op 8. The trio undertakes an 11-city US tour in 2019, performing a programme featuring Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Ravel’s Piano Trios, as well as Rachmaninov’s first Trio élégiaque. The tour begins at Charleston’s Galliard Center on 27 April 2019 and includes dates at Boston Symphony Hall (28 April), New York’s Lincoln Center (30 April) and culminates at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on 12 May.
In December 2018 Isserlis makes his debut with New York City’s Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in a programme entitled Bleeding Hearts, performing CPE Bach’s Cello Concerto at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College on 8 December and New York’s Kaufmann Concert Hall on 9 December. His recent critically-acclaimed recording of the CPE Bach concerto, along with Haydn’s Cello Concertos, was shortlisted for a Grammy Award in the US and the Gramophone Music Awards 2018 in the UK, and won the Limelight Magazine Award in Australia for Orchestral Disc of the Year.
After receiving the Glashütte Award at last year’s Dresden Festival, Isserlis returns to the city on 14 and 15 April 2019 to make his debut with the Dresden Staatskapelle at the Semperoper, performing Haydn’s Cello Concerto under Omer Meir Wellber.
Japan tour November 2018
Isserlis undertakes dates in Japan in November 2018, firstly with regular collaborator Connie Shih in a programme entitled Proust and Music. The programme features music by Franck, Fauré, Hahn, Saint-Saens and Thomas Adès’s Lieux Retrouves, which was written for Isserlis. The tour visits Kanack and Nagakute, where the duo will also take part in children’s lecture concerts, and culminates with a recital at Tokyo’s Oji Hall on 6 November. Isserlis also performs Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Hyōgo Performing Arts Centre Orchestra for four performances on 7, 9, 10 and 11 November.
Beethoven cycle with Robert Levin
Isserlis and regular collaborator Robert Levin (on fortepiano) released a critically-acclaimed disc of Beethoven Sonatas for cello and piano in 2014, and this season they reunite to bring the complete cycle of Beethoven’s music for cello and piano to Cambridge Music Festival on 22 November 2018, Florence’s Teatro della Pergola on 24 and 25 November 2018, and Milan’s Sala Verdi on 26 November. In 2019 they take the programme to the University of Chicago’s Logan Center Performance Hall (21 and 22 Feb), North Carolina’s Duke University (23 Feb), Milan’s Sala Verdi (20 May), Chipping Camden Music Festival (22 and 24 May), and the Bergen Festival on 29 May.
Isserlis and pianist Alasdair Beatson perform Bach, Schumann and Fauré at Oxford’s Jacqueline du Pré Music Building on 1 December 2018, and at the Sociedad Filarmónica de Bilbao on 4 December. The programme includes Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 3 arranged for cello by Isserlis.
On 20 January 2019, Isserlis and Dénes Várjon give a recital in Switzerland at the Kunstlerhaus Boswil featuring pieces by Beethoven and Schumann, also featuring Isserlis’s cello arrangement of Schumann’s Violin Sonata No.3. Also in Switzerland, Isserlis and Olli Mustonen perform in Lucerne on 26 May 2019, in a programme based on their Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Kabalevsky disc released in Spring 2019.
Schumann’s Cello Concerto is one of Isserlis’s favourite pieces to perform in concert, and his performances of the work are equally popular with audiences. This season sees him perform the concerto as guest soloist with two major UK orchestras, firstly with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo at the Barbican on 23 January 2019, and with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Nikolaj Znaider on 6 and 7 February 2019 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
Guest soloist appearances on the international stage include Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and Eduard Topchjan in Yerevan on 10 October 2018, and on 12 and 13 January 2019, Isserlis performs Saint-Saens and Schumann’s Cello Concertos on consecutive days with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and András Keller.
Concert dates and biography can be found at www.stevenisserlis.com