Pieter Wispelwey


"Cello playing of incomparable technical and musical accomplishment."

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

"Wispelwey’s playing is at once supremely lyrical and furiously intense."

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

"Deeply communicative and highly individual performances."

James R. Oestreich, New York Times

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Pieter Wispelwey is equally at ease on the modern or period cello. His acute stylistic awareness, combined with a truly original interpretation and a phenomenal technical mastery, has won the hearts of critics and public alike in repertoire ranging from JS Bach to Schnittke, Elliott Carter and works composed for him.

Highlights of the 16-17 season include a play-direct project with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, a performance of the complete Bach suites at Auditorium de Lyon and the City Recital Hall in Sydney, performances of Tavener’s Svyati with the Flanders Radio Choir and two recitals at King’s Place in London as part of their ‘Cello Unwrapped’ season. Pieter will also give series of extraordinary recitals at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part their Great Performer Series, where he will perform the complete Bach Suites, Beethoven’s complete works for cello and piano, and the two cello sonatas by Brahms over the course of three consecutive evenings.

Born in Haarlem, The Netherlands, Wispelwey studied with Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma in Amsterdam and later with Paul Katz in the USA and William Pleeth in the UK. He plays on a 1760 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini cello and a 1710 Rombouts baroque cello.

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Schubert - Brahms: The Complete Duos / Opus 100

Evil Penguin Records Classics

Wispelwey is a trailblazing virtuoso, opening up exciting repertoire directions and proving that a new guise for familiar repertoire can be entirely idiomatic.
As an interpreter of Brahms, he integrates the lilting melodies and the more fervent writing with rigorous rhythmic underplay, dressed in well-nuanced phrases. Giacometti never obscures the cello and is a magician of balance and colour. In the F major Sonata, Wispelwey projects the heroic opening with tremendous authority, initiating the dialogue with the piano much in the manner of a play. Both players bring out the introspective poetry of Brahms’s melodic invention in the slow movement, whereas the ensuing Allegro appassionata grabs us by the collar. But all is well as the sunny finale restores equilibrium.

Joanne Talbot, The Strad

Wispelwey and Paolo Giacometti offer appropriately imperious performances of the first three movements [of Brahms’ F major sonata], and they’re admirably light in the affable finale. […] these are fine performances, and if you’re attracted by the notion of transcribed pieces you couldn’t do better. 

Misha Donat, BBC Music Magazine ****

I’d describe this lovingly produced studio recording as a brave, brilliantly played mixed bag. The disc’s opener is Schubert’s Introduction and Variations on ‘Trockne Blumen’, originally for flute and piano, and it makes for a striking start. Wispelwey’s top-register entry with those first despairing four notes hooks you right in, aching and vulnerable of character, with an arresting, visceral tone (incidentally, the top two strings of his 1760 Guadagnini are of uncovered gut). Indeed, as we move through the variations, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Charlotte Gardner, Gramophone

[Wispelwey and Giacometti] are a well attuned to each other and understand themselves as brothers in spirit. Appropriately tight and almost conspirational is their collaboration. They bring both the sensitivity and the right character for these composers to the table. … The playing of these two instrumentalists is so authentic that adapting the works for cello does not seem disturbing but enables the listener to hear new facets in the works.

[In summary:] Besides one Brahms Sonata originally written for the cello, this CD offers two sonatas by Brahms and Schubert composed for violin and piano in transcriptions for the cello. They certainly bring new aspects to the works. Wispelwey and Giacometti concur completely and deliver compelling performances.


Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra, Op 125

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Technically superb, Wispelwey's impressive variety of tonal options also negotiated the vast emotional upheavals of this work as it ranged from quiet contemplation, moments of sardonic humour, through to raging aggression.

Martin Duffe, Sydney Morning Herald ****

Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo

Evil Penguin Records Classics

Wispelwey uses a Baroque cello with the strings tuned down a whole tone. It gives a deep grainy sound, but counteracting that is the fabulous springy liveliness of the playing.
Wispelwey can certainly make these dances dance, but at the same time he gives each one a speaking eloquence. Like a master rhetorician, he fills Bach’s even procession of notes with meaningful pauses, emphatic emphases, pleading diminuendos, changes of tone.
To add to the effect he often ventures to daring extremes of tempo, as in the slow and tragic Allemande of the Fifth Suite, or the startling contrast between the two Bourrées in the Fourth.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph *****

[Wispelwey] plays with deep affection and understanding. ... His bowing - often emulating the sound of the plucking of a lute - is masterful and always full of character.

Julie Anne Sadie, Gramophone

Dvorak: Cello Concerto; Symphonic Variations for Orchestra

Budapest Festival Orchestra

Wispelwey’s playing is at once supremely lyrical and furiously intense.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Cello playing of incomparable technical and musical accomplishment.

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

Bach: Suites for Cello Solo

Lincoln Center

Deeply communicative and highly individual performances.

James R. Oestreich, New York Times

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