The multi-award winning cellist Nicolas Altstaedt is coming to ANAM. Not yet 30, he is one of the exclusive New Generation Artists for the BBC.
You were one of the last students of the much-loved Boris Pergamenschikow. What qualities have you retained from him in your playing and thinking?
Boris was a universal artist, who was able to give us the background of a score, a composer and the time the music was written. Every piece we worked on was linked to something we didn’t know or hadn’t read yet. It could be a Pushkin poem while working on Tchaikovsky, listening to Czech songs while playing Dvořák, reading Heine, Novalis and Jean Paul while working on Schumann. He was also a great pianist; that widened his view on various pieces. Moreover, he was a humble man who took all his time to care for us. He always called us when we were travelling for competitions or concerts and the last three months we came to the hospitals for lessons, where he was teaching from his bed.
You were named the Credit Suisse Young Artist for 2010. This prize included your debut with the Vienna Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, playing Schumann’s concerto. Although you were already a highly experienced soloist, was it daunting to play with this orchestra?
It was an unforgettable experience. The most emotional moment was certainly the first rehearsal, listening through the doors to the Brahms overture and then entering the Musikverein stage to play with this orchestra. They welcomed me very warmly, it felt like a real concert. Because the orchestra is playing opera, the players react in every second to what you are doing without the need to even indicate it. It was pure freedom and the sound of the orchestra in that hall incomparable to anything else I have heard before.
The Honegger concerto, which you will perform at ANAM, is so melodious and attractive. Why do you think is not heard more often?
Hard to tell. It is in the form similar to the other French concertos, like Milhaud and Saint-Saëns, that also stay in the shadow of the other romantic concertos. For its time, it is not a progressive way of writing compared to what had been composed in the two decades before, if you look at the Second Viennese School or Stravinsky. In the following years, the cello repertoire expanded due to Rostropovich and the Honegger might have become forgotten standing next to the masterpieces of the century by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Lutosławski, Dutilleux, Britten and many more.
Lastly, you play an 1810 instrument made my Nicolas Lupot, ‘the French Stradivarius’, made available to you by the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben. What do you specially love about this instrument?
It has been for more than 10 years now following me in all dry, humid, cold and hot parts of the world. I started playing my first important concerts and recordings on it, it has been the closest partner I ever had. It’s not just that I can realize on it everything I want to express; it goes far beyond my limits and gives me direction where to go. It has been like a teacher that inspires and takes me to discover areas I haven’t been before. It is supporting and challenging me every moment. The best friend and mentor I can imagine.
Fri 8 June, 7PM
Fauré Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor
Dutilleux Trios strophes sur le nom de Sacher (for solo cello)
Honegger Cello Concerto
Nicolas Altstaedt cello/director
ANAM Orchestra and Musicians
$50 Full $35 Sen $25 Conc
ANAMates 15% discount
anam.com.au (03) 9645 7911