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Alexander Ivashkin, cellist

Johannes Brahms CELLO CONCERTO
  • World Premiere with Hamburger Sinfoniker, conducted by Andrey Boreyko. 23/24 October 2004

    Here's info on the so-called Cello Concerto of Brahms:

    The pianist and conductor Cord Garben has made an adaptation of the famous Concerto for Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 102 of Johannes Brahms. His version for violoncello and orchestra is new in the catalogues of Sikorski Publishers.

    Brahms wrote the Double Concerto during the summer months of 1887, while he was staying at Lake Thun. He did in fact consider writing a violoncello concerto on the request of his friend Robert Hausmann, the cellist of the Joachim Quartet. But things turned out differently. He told Clara Schumann that he had an "amusing idea," for he wanted to write a concerto for violin and violoncello. Behind this was the secret wish to use this constellation of instruments to effect a reconciliation with his old friend Joseph Joachim, from whom he had become estranged through a quarrel years ago. Brahms worried that Hausmann could have been disappointed in the as yet unwritten cello concerto, in that he wrote to him: "... or else you would have been highly ill-humoured and taken it badly that I would have even added a solo violin to a cello concerto."

    On 20 September, Brahms travelled with the completed score and orchestral parts to Baden-Baden, where Joseph Joachim and Robert Hausmann played the new composition at Clara Schumann’s house for the first time.

    The world premiere then took place at the beginning of the next season, on 18 October 1887, with the Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne.
    The purpose of the adaptation was to bring together the most important thematic segments of both solo parts (again) into a substantial, independent solo part. The originally rather neglected role of the woodwinds was considerably upgraded through the "allotment" of the violin part’s figurative elements.
    The world premiere of this version of the work took place in Hamburg, on 23/24 October 2004 with Alexander Ivashkin as a soloist, and Hamburger Sinfoniker under their Music director Andrey Boreyko.

    Douglas Moore
    November 21, 2006, 06:02 AM
    source at…

  • Premiere in Moscow (Russia), February 2005

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    Виолончельный концерт Брамса

    Оказывается, и сочинения хорошо известного композитора Иоганнеса Брамса могут звучать в Москве впервые. Премьера последнего симфонического произведения композитора — его Виолончельного концерта — состоялась в Большом зале консерватории.

    Исполнили его виолончелист Александр Ивашкин и Симфоническая капелла под управлением Валерия Полянского. Впрочем, Виолончельный концерт не является абсолютно неизвестным для слушателя сочинением — его знают как Двойной скрипичный концерт.

    Но совсем недавно в архиве Гамбурга была найдена оригинальная версия этого сочинения. И тут же на свет появилась история о том, что первоначально композитор и писал концерт для виолончели. Но в процессе написания он поругался со своим знакомым скрипачом Иохиммом, после чего — дабы устранить возникшие недомолвки и разногласия и погасить раздор — Брамс переписал партию виолончели для скрипки. Наряду с Виолончельным концертом в программе прозвучало одно из самых сложных сочинений Брамса — его «Немецкий реквием».

    Новости культуры
    14:24 28.02.05
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  • Premiere in Auckland (New Zealand), April 21, 2005

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    Ivashkin as zealous as ever

    Tomorrow night sees a rare New Zealand concert-hall appearance by Alexander Ivashkin, playing Brahms' Cello Concerto with the Auckland Philharmonia.

    The Russian cellist — Professor of Cello at London University — made his presence very much felt in New Zealand when he was based at the University of Canterbury.

    "Being born in the far east of Russia, on the Chinese border, with parents who travelled a lot, I must have something in my blood that pushes me to do the same thing," Ivashkin says.

    Having survived the cultural deprivations of Russia in the 70s — "stagnation would be a mild word" — Ivashkin opts for understatement when he describes his home country as "not very quiet" in the late 80s.

    He says Gorbachev "was interested in self-promotion rather than helping Russia and it was only after things went out of control that things changed for the better".

    Then came the move to Christchurch, where "the very nice people were one of my strongest impressions. They really wanted to help".

    Ivashkin helped us, too, with his profile as a musician. He launched the Adam International Cello Festival and recorded several CDs, including a brave double disc of Australian and New Zealand solo cello music, Under the Southern Cross. Since leaving, he has recorded more copiously within the Russian repertoire as well as publishing, through Phaidon, an authoritative text on the great Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.

    "He was a very dear friend," Ivashkin says, "and originally he simply asked me to meet with him on a regular basis and record our conversations. I won't say I'm an expert, although perhaps I am now — by default."

    Schnittke's music is "very important for a certain generation of Russian people because it spoke about many things through music when it was impossible to use words", Ivashkin continues. "He could describe the situation in Russia in a very symbolic way. But Schnittke's music ... just as with Shostakovich, is essentially music - despite all the discussion about the political essence of it, these composers will not mean the same for future generations."

    To Western ears, Schnittke's music can be a little on the wacky side. A violin and piano take on Silent Night, veering from the cloyingly sentimental to aggressive dissonance. Did the man have a sense of humour? "He didn't really make jokes," says Ivashkin, "but in a way he never did take anything completely seriously and you can feel this in his music, with its mixture of styles. What is a tragic, dramatic piece for some people is just a joke for others. It's always ambiguous and double-sided."

    For the moment, Ivashkin is fully engaged with the newly discovered Brahms Cello Concerto, which is a reworking of the Double Concerto. "The composer had first intended it for just cello," Ivashkin says, "and the violin part was a gesture towards Joachim, with whom he was not on very good terms."

    Ivashkin's voice now has a real Russian fervour: "I love the Double Concerto, but not everything is perfect. The cello is often inaudible when it's accompanied by the orchestra. The more I play the solo cello score the more I feel it is the original version."

    Though the Brahms will be receiving only its second performance worldwide in this form, perhaps one day one of our orchestras will bring Ivashkin back to give the New Zealand premieres of some of the Schnittke works.


    *Who: Alexander Ivashkin, with the Auckland Philharmonia
    *Where and when: Auckland Town Hall, Thursday, 8pm

    By William Dart
    source at…

  • Premiere in St.Petersburg (Russia), January 2007

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    Александр Ивашкин. «Виолончельный концерт Брамса»

    Александр Ивашкин — редкий тип музыканта. Он одновременно виолончелист и музыковед, причем трудно сказать, кто он в первую очередь. Ивашкин-виолончелист концертирует по всему миру, в основном с современными произведениями. Для него, как и для Мстислава Ростроповича и Наталии Гутман, специально писал Альфред Шнитке. Ивашкин — автор прекрасной книги о Шнитке, а сейчас готовит исследование о русской музыке «После Шостаковича». Уехав из России в 1991, Ивашкин прожил восемь лет в Новой Зеландии, где преподавал, играл с местными и австралийскими оркестрами, основал ставший известным конкурс виолончелистов. В 1999 перебрался в Англию, основал в лондонском Goldsmith University центр по пропаганде и изучению русской музыки, где собирают ноты, записи, архивные материалы и проводят концерты.

    Ивашкин-музыковед всегда старается расширить репертуар Ивашкина-виолончелиста. Вот и в филармоническом концерте под управлением дирижера Владимира Вербицкого он сыграет Виолончельный концерт Брамса, которого нет в списке сочинений композитора, потому что из него Брамс потом сделал свой последний симфонический опус — знаменитый Двойной концерт для скрипки и виолончели с оркестром.

    Борис Филановский
    25 января 2007
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