The International cello festival “Cello Cēsis” is unique; it is the first cello festival in the Baltic-Nordic region and the only annual one. It aims to help the listeners discover the inimitable voice and diverse sound of the cello through performances of both world-renowned cello players and young musicians. A wide range of musical genres are represented in the festival programme, from symphony and chamber music to contemporary and crossover pieces. A distinctly internationally orientated festival, Cello Cēsis has already hosted appearances by world-renowned cello players like Nicolas Altstaedt and Daniel Muller-Schott from Germany, Marko Ylonen from Finland, Marc Coppey from France, Mario Brunello from Italy and Narek Hakhnazaryan from Armenia. Along side with internatioanl stars, the best Latvian cellists are represented as well, such as Kristina Blaumane, the first cellists of the London Philpharmonic orchestra, Marta Sudraba, presently resident in Vienna, Ēriks Kiršfelds, playing with Sinfonietta Amsterdam, and the joung cello star Margarita Balanas.
The Gala concert of the first “Cello Cēsis” festival, was nominated as “Concert of the Year” at the Grand Music Awards of Latvia, the highest prize given by the Latvian State in the field of music.
The programme of the 6Th Edition:
Friday, 18 September 2020 at 19:00 Great Auditorium
Kian Soltani’s cello quartet: Kian Soltani, Paul Handschke, Anton Spronk, Sebastian Braun
This year’s festival will see Kian Soltani not only demonstrate his unsurpassable skills as a solo musician in a symphony orchestra concert but also perform as part of a chamber ensemble. Soltani has brought together some of the most brilliant cellists of the younger generation, creating an exciting programme especially for the festival, featuring treasures of cello music by J. S. Bach, V. A. Mozart, Samuel Barber and Piotr Tchaikovsky.
Saturday, 19 September 2020 at 14:00 Great Auditorium
CELLO AND SPANISH GUITAR
Gaspar Claus, cello, France
Pedro Soler, guitar, France
The French cello player Gaspar Claus is bringing a flavour of Spanish culture and flamenco tradition to the festival programme; a musician with inexhaustible curiosity, he keeps redrawing the global musical map. Claus uses his brilliant technique to abandon himself to embrace celebration of life ‒ always open to surprises and unexpected new collaborations. Things that matter to him in music are a sense of presence and capturing eternal values like friendship, trust and togetherness. We will hear and feel it in the cellist’s duet with his father, the flamenco guitarist Pedro Soler.
Saturday, 19 September 2020 at 19:00 Great Auditorium
SOLTANI, DON QUIXOTE AND LNSO
Kian Soltani, cello, Austria
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Andris Poga
Programme: Richard Strauss, tone poem Don Quixote; premiere of a musical piece by Ēriks Ešenvalds
The festival gala will feature a performance of the vividly colourful and orchestrally impressive Don Quixote, a tone poem by the giant of Romantic music Richard Strauss, where Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, lead by conductor Andris Poga, will join the Austria-based Deutsche Grammophon musician of Persian extraction Kian Soltani.
Genre-wise this piece by Strauss is described as ‘Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character’. The title character of the tone poem is, of course, borrowed from the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes, and Richard Strauss is being unashamedly programmatic here, in that his music distinctly paints scenes from the book. In a sense, this is a symphonic animation film. The character of the knight errant is embodied in the tone poem by Soltani’s cello.
Speaking of Kian Soltani, the Gramophone Magazine uses the words ‘sheer perfection’; his cello playing has been described as possessing depth of expression, a sense of individuality and technical mastery. These qualities are complemented by a charismatic stage presence that helps establish an immediate emotional connection with his audience. Kian Soltani is invited to perform with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors; from a rising star he has become one of the most sought-after and talked-about cello players today. Soltani has played in venues like Philharmonie de Paris, Wiener Konzerthaus, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Amsterdamas Concertgebow, Barbican Centre, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Pierre Boulez Saal, as well as at Salzburg and Lucerne festivals.
The festival gala will also see the world premiere of a new piece for cello and symphony orchestra by the Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds, a commission from Cēsis Concert Hall.
Sunday, 20 September 2020 at 14:00 Great Auditorium
LEONARD ELSCHENBROICH ǀ BEETHOVEN’S CELLO SONATAS
Leonard Elschenbroich, cello, Germany
Alexei Grynyuk, piano, Ukraine
The festival will conclude with a programme dedicated to the great Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 250th anniversary of birth we are marking in 2020. Performed by the brilliant German cellist Leonard Elschenbroich and his stage partner, pianist Alexei Grynyuk, we will hear Beethoven’s five cello sonatas, spanning the three periods of the composer’s career. The melodious Sonata Op. 5 marks the early period in Vienna (1792‒1799) when Beethoven was known as a virtuoso pianist and an emerging composer. The wonderful Sonata Op. 69 dates from the period when Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 4‒8, Violin Concerto and String Quartet Op. 59 were also written. The two Sonatas Op. 102 hail from the late period where the cello and piano are truly equal partners and Beethoven reveals the whole range of cello’s voice, demanding a lot from the musician. Sonata Op. 17, dated from 1790, was originally written for the French horn and piano.
The New York Times describes Leonard Elschenbroich as ‘a musician of great technical prowess, intellectual curiosity and expressive depth’. The cellist performs with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. He made his American debut playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and his Asian debut performing at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The musician regularly performs at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Elschenbroich’s album Beethoven: The Cello Sonatas has won great critical acclaim, featured as Editor’s Choice by the Gramophone Magazine and named Album of the Month by the BBC Music Magazine.