Soloists » Steven Isserlis, cello

Steven IsserlisAcclaimed worldwide for his technique and musicianship, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician and educator.

Highlights of recent seasons have included concerto performances with the Berlin Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, the Philharmonia Orchestra and András Schiff, the Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Jarvi, The Cleveland Orchestra and Ton Koopman, Washington National Symphony and Vladimir Ashkenazy, Swedish Radio Symphony and Daniel Harding, Vienna Symphony and Thomas Dausgaard, and NHK Symphony and Tadaaki Otaka; play-direct projects with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields; recitals with Olli Mustonen, Stephen Hough and Jeremy Denk; and a season-long residency at London’s Wigmore Hall in which he appeared as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician as well as leading a number of educational events.

Upcoming highlights include appearances with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and David Zinman, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Jakub Hrusa, DSO Berlin and Leonard Slatkin, the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki,  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, and BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Thomas Sondergaard; recitals in Brussels, Budapest, Bonn, Baden-Baden, Hong Kong, Toronto, Baltimore, and Detroit; performances of Beethoven’s complete sonatas and variations for cello and keyboard with fortepianist Robert Levin in London, New York and San Francisco; and a specially devised series of chamber music programmes at Wigmore Hall with singers Mark Padmore, Lucy Crowe and Isabel Bayrakdarian.

Steven Isserlis takes a strong interest in authentic performance and has played with many of the foremost period instrument orchestras including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and Philharmonia Baroque, frequently working with conductors such as Ton Koopman, Philippe Herreweghe, Richard Egarr and Nicholas McGegan.  He is also a keen exponent of contemporary music, and has worked with many composers on new works, including John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil, Wolfgang Rihm’s Cello Concerto in One Movement, and Thomas Adès’s work for cello and piano, Lieux retrouvés.

Writing and playing for children is another major interest.  Steven Isserlis’s books for children about the lives of the great composers – Why Beethoven Threw the Stew and its sequel, Why Handel Waggled his Wig – are published by Faber and Faber, and both books have been translated into many languages.  He has recorded a CD for BIS with Stephen Hough entitled Children’s Cello, and with composer Anne Dudley he has written three “musical tales” for children which are published by Universal Edition.  As an educator, Steven Isserlis gives frequent masterclasses all around the world, and for the past fourteen years he has been Artistic Director of the International Musicians’ Seminar at Prussia Cove in Cornwall.

With an award-winning discography, Steven Isserlis’s recordings reflect his diverse interests in repertoire.  His recording of the complete Solo Cello Suites by J. S. Bach for Hyperion met with the highest critical acclaim, and was Gramophone magazine’s Instrumental Disc of the Year and Critic’s Choice at the Classical Brits.  Other recent releases include an all-Schumann disc for Hyperion with Denes Várjon, and reVisions: a recording of works for cello and chamber orchestra for BIS.

The recipient of many honours, Steven Isserlis was awarded a CBE in 1998 in recognition of his services to music, and in 2000 he received the Schumann Prize of the City of Zwickau.

He plays the Marquis de Corberon (Nelsova) Stradivarius of 1726, kindly loaned to him by the Royal Academy of Music.