Accompanied by the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest (Radio Philharmonic Orchestra; Dutch abbreviation RFO), Dutch classical cellist Ella van Poucke performs Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, the last solo concerto of the Czech composer. Conductor: Bas Wiegers. Recorded on March 17, 2023, at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht.
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto
Composed in 1894-1895, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto is one of the most famous and beloved works in the cello repertoire and is considered by many to be one of the greatest concertos ever written.
The concerto consists of three movements: the first is marked Allegro, the second is marked Adagio, and the third is marked Allegro moderato. The concerto is notable for its beautiful melodies, lyrical passages, and virtuosic cello writing.
The work was commissioned by Dvořák’s friend and cellist, Hanuš Wihan (1855-1920), and was premiered in London in 1896 with Wihan as soloist. The premiere was a great success, and the concerto has since become a staple of the cello repertoire.
1. Allegro (B minor then B major)
The 1st movement begins with a powerful orchestral introduction, featuring bold brass fanfares and driving rhythms. The solo cello then enters with a sweeping melody that introduces the main theme, which is characterized by its lyrical and singing quality.
The movement is notable for its dramatic contrasts between the solo cello and the orchestra. The cello engages in a dialogue with the orchestra, with the soloist often playing virtuosic passages while the orchestra responds with powerful orchestral tuttis. The cello’s melodies are also echoed and developed by the orchestra, creating a sense of unity and continuity between the soloist and the ensemble.
The development section of the movement features a cadenza-like passage for the cello, in which the soloist demonstrates their virtuosic abilities and expands on the main themes of the movement. The movement then returns to the recapitulation, in which the main themes are restated and developed.
2. Adagio, ma non troppo (G major)
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto 2nd movement is a beautiful and lyrical Adagio, considered by many to be the emotional heart of the concerto. The movement is marked by its sweeping melodies and lush orchestration and is characterized by a deep sense of emotion and longing.
The movement begins with a quiet introduction by the solo cello, which establishes the main melody of the movement. This melody is then taken up by the orchestra, with the cello playing a supporting role with arpeggiated figures and delicate filigree. The main melody is highly lyrical and expressive and is characterized by a sense of yearning and nostalgia.
As the movement progresses, the cello takes up the main melody once again, developing it further and exploring its many emotional nuances. The orchestra provides a rich and supportive accompaniment, with lush string writing and delicate woodwind solos. The cello engages in a series of dialogues with the orchestra, with the soloist playing highly expressive and lyrical passages, while the ensemble responds with delicate counterpoint and rich harmonies.
The movement builds to a powerful climax, with the cello soaring above the orchestra in a display of virtuosity and emotional intensity. The music then fades away into a quiet coda, with the solo cello playing a final, poignant statement of the main melody.
3. Finale: Allegro moderato – Andante – Allegro vivo (B minor then B major)
The finale of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto is a lively and rhythmic Allegro moderato that brings the concerto to a triumphant conclusion. The movement is characterized by its dance-like main theme, virtuosic cello writing, and energetic orchestration.
The movement begins with a jaunty main theme, introduced by the orchestra, that is characterized by its lively rhythms and playful melodies. The cello then takes up the main theme, engaging in a lively dialogue with the orchestra. The movement features a series of contrasting themes, with the cello playing virtuosic passages and engaging in a series of dialogues with the orchestra.
The movement also features a stunning cadenza for the cello, in which the soloist demonstrates their virtuosic abilities and explores the main themes of the movement. The orchestra then returns with a triumphant restatement of the main theme, building to a powerful climax.
The coda of the movement is characterized by its energetic rhythms and driving intensity. The orchestra provides a powerful accompaniment, with bold brass fanfares and driving percussion. The cello engages in a final display of virtuosity, playing a series of dazzling passages that soar above the orchestra. The movement then ends with a triumphant final statement of the main theme, bringing the concerto to a thrilling conclusion.
Ella van Poucke
Ella van Poucke, born in Amsterdam in 1994, is one of the leading cellists of her generation.
Praised for her musical integrity, flawless instrumental abilities as well as her performing presence and intensity, the 28-year-old Dutch cellist belongs to the top rank of today’s generation of cellists.
After making her debut at the Concertgebouw at the age of 10 she has been performing in all the major halls of the Netherlands, in many top halls in Europe and in the U.S. and Asia.
She is the winner of the prestigious Premio Chigiana 2017, the first prize winner of the International Isang Yun cello competition 2015, the Grachtenfestival Prize, the Leopoldinum Award 2015, Prix Nicolas Firmenich 2013, the Elisabeth Everts Award 2014, Prix Academie Maurice Ravel 2012, Dutch Musician of the Year 2012 and recipient of the special prize in “recognition of an outstanding performance at the Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann 2014.
As a soloist Ella has performed with the HR-Sinfonie Orchester, Brussels Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Rotterdam Philharmonic Strings, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Orchestre Della Toscana, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Havana Youth Orchestra, Varsovia Chamber Orchestra, Symfonie Orchestra of Vlaanderen, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, Junge Sinfonie Berlin, Hamburger Camerata, Tongyeong Festival Orchestra and collaborated with artists as Christoph Eschenbach, Michael Sanderling, Karina Cannelakis among others.
In November 2012 she premiered a new cello concerto, which was written for her by the Finnish composer Uljas Pulkkis during the International Cello Biennale in Amsterdam.
In September 2013 she premiered the same work in Germany at the Kronberg Festival, with members of the HR-Sinfonie Orchester Frankfurt.
Ella regularly appears on Dutch Radio and Television and has performed for ARTE TV in Germany and France. She appeared in Germany’s “Stars von Morgen” hosted by Rolando Villazon.
As a passionate chamber musician, Ella has performed with Andras Schiff, Gary Hoffman, Nobuko Imai, Tabea Zimmermann, Christian Tetzlaff, Viviane Hagner, Gidon Kremer, Colin Carr, Pavel Vernikov, Andreas Reiner, Vilde Frang, Simone Lamsma, Christiaan Bor, Philippe Graffin, Prazak quartet, Schumann Quartett among others.
For many years she regularly performs in recitals with pianist Jean-Claude vanden Eynden, Caspar Vos, and her brother Nicolas van Poucke.
She has been a guest at numerous international festivals such as Festspiele Mecklenburg Vorpommern, West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Krzyzowa Music, Chigiana International Festival, Kaposfest Hungary, Internationaal Kamermuziek Festival Utrecht, Grachten Festival Amsterdam, Kronberg Festival, Cello Biennale Amsterdam and was invited to participate in Verbier Festival Academy in 2009, 2013 and 2014.
As a Dutch ‘Rising Star’ Ella was invited to give two Carte Blanche concerts in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 2013-14.
In the summer of 2017, she was an Artist in Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of the Netherlands and in August 2018 Ella was an Artist in Residence of the Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam.
This season Ella is Artist in Residence at the “Vrijdag van Vredenburg” series in Utrecht, where she will perform several times as a soloist with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and in chamber music with her friends and inspirations including Gary Hoffman.
In 2019 Ella performed the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam together with her brother Nicolas among other venues. In 2018 she toured with all the Bach suites.
In 2020 Ella released her debut album, devoted to Schumann’s works for cello, which was very well received worldwide. The Gramophone wrote: “This is an impressive album from a soloist whose performances I look forward to hearing more of in the future.”
The year 2023 marks the 150th birthday of Sergei Rachmaninov. Ella’s next album will be a tribute to his chamber music and focuses on the monumental sonata for cello and piano which she recorded with pianist Caspar Vos.
In 2022 Ella was appointed cello professor at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.
Born into a family of musicians, Ella began playing the cello at the age of six. Entered the Royal Conservatory of The Hague at the age of 10 and later continued her studies at the Conservatory of Amsterdam with Godfried Hoogeveen.
From 2009-2016 Ella studied with Frans Helmerson at the Kronberg Academy Masters in Germany.
From 2016-2019 she was an Artist in Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel in Brussels, where she studied with Gary Hoffman.
Ella plays on a 1620 Maggini cello, kindly lend to her by an anonymous benefactor.
- Cello Concerto (Dvořák) on Wikipedia
- Ella van Poucke on Wikipedia
- Ella van Poucke’s official website
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