Steven Isserlis - Reviews

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"In its original version for violin, the piece’s recurring triadic melody might well have been the musical theme that haunted Proust. It certainly haunted Sunday’s audience, with Isserlis extracting every bit of colour possible from the deceptively simple phrase."Franck’s Sonata in A major with Connie Shih, at the University of Hong Kong, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, October 17, 2016

"Isserlis’s solo spot, following straight on in this unbroken strand, stayed in the deep waters with Mustonen’s own free-range meditation on the “Frei aber einsam” (“Free but lonely,” the notes F, A and E) motto of Joseph Joachim, subject of the late composite Violin Sonata from which we heard the first of Schumann’s two contributions, the Intermezzo, transcribed for cello and piano, a perfect, discreetly melancholy coda here." - Homage to Schumann by Mustonen at Wigmore Hall, THE ARTS DESK, October 5, 2016

"The stylistic integrity between Isserlis’ expressive playing, whether light or robust, and Levin’s busy, but clatter-free, virtuosity on his fortepiano was seamless." - Beethoven's music for piano and cello at Festival Music with Robert Levin, HERALD SCOTLAND, August 23, 2016

"If the Proms awarded medals for cello gymnastics, soloist Steven Isserlis would surely win gold for his fiendishly beautiful rendition of Thomas Adès's Lieux retrouvés." - Thomas Adés's Lieux retrouvès in Prom 40, THE INDEPENDENT, August 16, 2016

"Isserlis brought subtlety and conviction to the piece..." - Thomas Adés's Leiux retrouvès in Prom 40, THE GUARDIAN, August 16, 2016

"No one’s going through the motions, least of all Isserlis. He gets the mood exactly right, playing with an appealing blend of warmth and resignation. The flamboyant passages sparkle, and the last movement’s devastating backward glance is a belter." - Elgar & Walton Cello Concertos CD Review, THE ARTS DESK, April 9, 2016

"Isserlis’s way with them is as passionate as it is poetical: brilliant..." - Bach Cello Suites and Kurtág at Wigmore Hall, THE SUNDAY TIMES, February 28, 2016

"Leading into the sunlight of Bach’s Suite No 4, Kurtág’s Faith traced a momentous journey from passion to peace in three minutes flat." - Bach Cello Suites and Kurtág's Signs, Games and Messages at Wigmore Hall, THE GUARDIAN, February 18, 2016

"This was a performance on the edge: deeply thoughtful and personal, and profoundly human." - Bach Cello Suites and Kurtág's Signs, Games and Messages at Wigmore Hall, CLASSICAL SOURCE, February 17, 2016

"The playing had tender beauty as well as incisive energy, and the third movement was affirmative and joyous – a true testament of friendship, as Brahms intended it to be." - Brahms double concerto w/ Joshua Bell at Bridgewater Hall, MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, January 14, 2016

"Hearing thoughtfully considered and brilliantly executed performances by a duo whose scholarly acumen was bested only by their theatricality, made this a memorably provocative series of concerts." - Best of 2015: Top 10 classical music events, THE VANCOUVER SUN, December 30, 2015

Beethoven Cello Sonatas Robert Levin (fortepiano) and Steven Isserlis (cello). Gardner Museum
- Jeremy Eichler's Picks - The Year in Arts, THE BOSTON GLOBE, December 26, 2015

“The sparkling sound of the Schantz reproduction was once again the perfect complement for Isserlis, in an enchanting performance full of humour — most of it good-natured — yet tempered with lashings of elegant sentiment. Articulation and extremely rapid passage work, not to mention breathless pianissimos, were enormously effective on the Viennese instrument, and Isserlis’s range of dynamics and subtle use of vibrato informed every bar of the work.“   - Beethoven recital w/ Robert Levin, CLASSICAL VOICE NORTH AMERICA, March 19, 2015

“Isserlis, of course, is a matchless virtuoso, so much so that it might seem redundant to discuss the transcendent way he played Beethoven‘s visionary score; it would be more to the point to note that his Olympian talent connected the audience directly with the mind and heart of Beethoven, in a kind of musical séance.“   - Beethoven Sonatas w/ Robert Levin, THE PLAIN DEALER, March 11, 2015

“In addition to all the refined articulation, his endlessly sustained note at the close of the tender third movement was a thing of particular beauty.“   - Bach, Faure and Martinu w/ Connie Shih At Shriver Hall, THE BALTIMORE SUN, December 10, 2014

“With Isserlis’ unbridled musical fervor and his soft, lustrous tone came the added benefit of closely observing the musicians in their perfect little microcosm.“   -Boccherini and CPE Bach w/ Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE, October 10, 2014

“Mr. Isserlis‘ playing was wonderfully fluid & had a lightness & grace that fit the repertoire well.“   - Two cello concertos w/ Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, NOT FOR FUN ONLY, October 9, 2014

“Isserlis was an ideal guest artist. There never seems to be a shortage of wit in his performances, particularly when he is dealing with earlier periods of music history. The [C.P.E.] Bach concerto was particularly impressive for the energetic virtuosity it elicits.“   - Two cello concertos w/ Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, October 9, 2014

“But those performances rarely featured a solo turn as striking as what Steven Isserlis offered on the Edward Elgar Cello Concerto Friday, an interpretation full of strength and sadness. The English virtuoso was as powerful on the fleetly fingered perpetual motion passages of the second movement as when summoning grief and resignation on the weighty finale.“   - Elgar Cello Concerto w/ Minnesota Orchestra, PIONEER PRESS, February 14, 2014

“Steven Isserlis was anything but routine. Isserlis flings himself into music... he’s utterly committed to every moment, making a light, elegant sound that is anything but exaggerated.“   - Schumann Cello Concerto w/ National Symphony, THE WASHINGTON POST, February 6, 2014

“Isserlis’s and Levin’s is a shared experience of audacity and spirituality.“   - CD: Beethoven Cello Sonatas w/ Robert Levin, GRAMOPHONE, February 1, 2014

“Isserlis himself contributes a highly personable and informative booklet essay.“   - Dvorak Cello Concertos CD, GRAMOPHONE, October 1, 2013

“...playing with rapturously warm tone...“   - Wigmore Hall, THE TELEGRAPH, September 19, 2013

“Superstar cellist Steven Isserlis delivered jaw-droppingly good performances in Kai and in Kurtágʼs Signs, Games and Messages for solo cello. He entertained not merely for his extraordinary mastery of his instrument, but also his exuberant performance mannerisms: the extravagantly wide bow movements, the hyperactive leg twitches and the monumental mass of curly hair.“   - Metropolis Festival in Melbourne Australia, LIMELIGHT, May 2, 2013

“Isserlis’s bristling intensity was responsive to the youthful vitality while also bringing a yearning lyricism to the interior pages.“   - University of Chicago Presents, CHICAGO CLASSICAL REVIEW, February 2, 2013

Mr. Isserlis’ musicality and command of his instrument is breathtaking: his approach is basically restrained rather than impulsive... He manages to coax the most wonderful effects in color and dynamics from his instrument while perfectly maintaing a silken, singing tone; his playing is wonderfully vocal yet without the slightest rough edge – delicate in the very best sense of the word, and with dynamism in equal measure.“   - University of Chicago Presents, CHICAGO CRITIC, February 1, 2013

“And this pair of musicians, who got together by accident but seem perfectly suited for one another, put it across brilliantly to the large Cleveland Chamber Music Society audience... “   - Chamber recital w/ Kirill Gerstein at Plymouth Church, CLEVELANDCLASSICAL, January 30, 2013

“Mr. Isserlis handled both works with his customary persuasiveness and unerring ear, his gutstringed instrument singing in its highest register and purring below.“   - Brahms Sonata No.2 at 92nd Street Y, THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 28, 2013