Sponsored in part by the Anthony E. Perrotti Great Performances Endowment
Pieter Wispelwey, Cellist –Alexander Melnikov, Pianist
Pieter Wispelwey was born in Haarlem in the Netherlands and grew up with his two younger brothers in Santpoort, where his parents still live. At the age of 19 he moved to Amsterdam and has remained in the same 17th Century house ever since.
Wispelwey’s diverse musical personality is rooted in the training he received – firstly from regular exposure from a very early age to his father’s amateur string quartet when they rehearsed at the Wispelwey home, to lessons with Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma in Amsterdam followed by studies with Paul Katz in the United States and William Pleeth in the United Kingdom. Having been encouraged to listen to as much music as possible, he developed a love of Renaissance music (Italian and English madrigalists) and German Lied. These genres have been a constant source of inspiration for Pieter. In 1990 his first recording with Channel Classics, “The Bach Cello Suites,” was released to great acclaim and, in 1992, he was the first cellist ever to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, which is endowed upon the most promising young musician in the Netherlands. Thus his path was secured to the busy and varied career he has today.
Wispelwey has always been at home on the modern cello with metal and/or gut strings as he is on the baroque four-string and five-string cello. Therefore, he covers a repertoire from J. S. Bach to Elliott Carter drawing on a pallet of sounds and colors available from his range of instruments, string set-ups and bows. Recitals have always played a major part in Pieter’s concert diary and he has appeared all over the world. As a recitalist with piano, he has all the main repertoire at his disposal, which is always ready for performance.
Wispelwey considers himself extremely lucky that, despite the demise of the classical recording industry, he is in a position, thanks to the support of his record label Channel Classics, to be able to record his own choice of repertoire with his own choice of artists and orchestras. This freedom has resulted in the conception of CDs with unusually imaginative repertoire. But, maybe what he appreciates most about Channel Classics is the fact that he is allowed complete hands-on control over the producing and, more importantly, the editing and post-production processes. His involvement even stretching to writing texts for the jackets.
“Pieter Wispelwey’s performance was magical for its mercurial charm, lightness and inventiveness, and his sound …had crisp freshness and the transparency of colour which comes from immaculate intonation.” Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald
“Playing with an enchanting tonal meld of sweetness and strength, Pieter Wispelwey literally took to heart…” Elisabeth Silsbury, The Advertiser
“Mr. Wispelwey’s playing was full of vivid contrasts.” Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
“…Dutch Cellist, Pieter Wispelwey was a fine soloist, technically assured, clean of attack, forceful and declamatory rhythm. His clear, even ringing tone was a joy to hear in itself…” Timothy Mangan , Orange County Register
“…performances as eloquent as they were provocative.” Jeremy Eichler, The New York Times
“To say Pieter Wispelsey’s music –making is ravishing is to utter an understatement of huge proportions.” The Age, Melbourne
Alexander Melnikov has earned a reputation as one of the finest Russian pianists of his generation. He was born in Moscow in 1973 and began his music studies at the age of six at Moscow’s Central Music School, then continued at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire from where he graduated in 1997 in the class of professor Lev Naumov. Later, he completed his post-graduate studies in Munich with Elisso Wirssaladze and at the Fondazione per il Pianoforte (Lago di Como, Italy) where he had lessons with Andreas Staier and Carl-Ulrich Schnabel among others. While still studying at school he became a prize-winner of several major international piano competitions (Schumann, Zwickau in 1989 and Queen Elisabeth, Brussels in 1991 among others) and began his international career shortly afterwards.
His past engagements have included performances with the Russian National Orchestra and Tokyo Philharmonic with Mikhail Pletnev, Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Philadelphia Orchestra with Charles Dutoit, the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Valery Gergiev, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic with Yuri Temirkanov, and forthcoming engagements include the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with Thomas Dausgaard, the Residente Orchestra with Sinaisky, the Basle Symphony Orchestra with Pietri Inkinen, the Macao Orchestra with En Shao, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra with Matthias Bamert, the KBS Symphony Orchestra with Bramwell Tovey and the Ulster Orchestra with Tuomas Ollila-Hannikainen. He also performs on fortepiano, collaborating regularly with the Concerto Koeln and recently was a soloist on a Dutch tour with Philipp Herrewege.
In recital, Melnikov appears regularly at the world’s leading concert halls and also at festivals such as Schleswig-Holstein, Neuhaus and Gstaad and he will appear this year at Enschede, Moscow, the Seoul Arts Centre, as well as undertaking a multi-city tour of Japan.
Chamber music plays an important part in Melnikov’s activities. Between 1993 and 2003 he performed extensively with Vadim Repin, and at present he is a part of a well-established duo with Isabelle Faust performing in 2007 at the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, the Park Theatre in Bensheim, Rihimaki, the Passau Festival, the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, the Povoa de Varzim Festival, the Colmar Festival and a tour of New Zealand among others. His partners also include Natalia Gutman, Yuri Bashmet, Alexander Rudin, Victor Tretiakov, the Vanbrugh, Petersson, and Borodin Quartets, Pietar Wispelway and Truls Mørk Jean-Guihen Queyras. In a piano duo he appeare regularly with Andreas Staier, Boris Berezovsky, and Alexei Lubimov. Melnikov was featured as a BBC New Generation Artist from 2000 to 2002 and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3 in recital and chamber music as well as performing and recording with the BBC orchestras.
In 2004-2007 Harmonia Mundi France released several CDs (chamber music with Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras as well as a solo Scriabin disc) and they were each met with great acclaim.
Melnikov had close artistic ties with the late Sviatoslav Richter, who regularly invited him to participate in his festivals in Moscow (December Nights), and his chamber music festival in Grange du Meslay (Tours, France).
Melnikov has taught piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England since 2002. In addition to his busy schedule as a pianist, Melnikov’s second love is aviation, and he is a qualified private pilot.