It is jaw-dropping to watch the skill and physicality of Nicolas Altstaedt switching between playing the toughest solo cello parts and directing the orchestra, then turning back to his cello to carry on, and doing it all so superbly.
Shostakovich’s spiky, brilliant concerto is a powerhouse work that makes the most of his dramatic side. It sounds spectacular but troubled, perhaps because beneath those notes lies a web of secret codes and references to Shostakovich’s merciless oppressor, Joseph Stalin. There is a heroism to it which finds echoes in Beethoven’s theatrical Overture and Schubert’s ‘Tragic’ Symphony. That title was well chosen… for the first 2 minutes at least: then it all gets considerably jollier!
Beethoven: Overture, Coriolan
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No 1
Schubert: Symphony No 4 in C minor ‘Tragic’
Nicolas Altstaedt: Conductor / Cello
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(The Scotsman, November 2018)
"The chemistry between Altstaedt and the SCO gelled as they pulled out all the stops in a cracking performance. The rumble of timpani, elegant bassoon lines and the basses driving the beat were superb"