“A magician of cantabile playing and a master of virtuosic panache”
Having launched his career with Berliner Philharmoniker and Semyon Bychkov in 1991, Alban Gerhardt has since gained recognition as one of the most versatile cellists, highly regarded for his performances from solo Bach through the classical and romantic canon, to collaborations with several contemporary composers.
Alban Gerhardt has, for nearly thirty years, made a unique impact on audiences worldwide with his intense musicality, compelling stage presence and insatiable artistic curiosity. His gift for shedding fresh light on familiar scores, along with his appetite for investigating new repertoire from centuries past and present, truly set him apart from his peers.
Having recently premiered a new cello concerto by Brett Dean with Sydney Symphony and Berliner Philharmoniker, Alban Gerhardt gives the first US performance with Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä. Other symphonic engagements in North America include concerts with the New York Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. The upcoming season takes Gerhardt to Asia on several occasions, to perform with Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, The Macao Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and Hong Kong Sinfonietta. In Europe he premieres a new chamber concerto by Julian Anderson in Paris with the Orchestre National de France and performs with Swedish Radio, London Philharmonic Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Gerhardt has won several awards, and his recording of Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto, released by Deutsche Grammophon, won the BBC Music Magazine Award and was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award in 2015. Gerhardt has recorded extensively for Hyperion, his latest recording of complete Bach suites was released in 2019.
He is a keen chamber musician; his regular performance partners include Steven Osborne and Cecile Licad. Most recently he has collaborated on a new artistic project ’Love in Fragments’ with violinist Gergana Gergova, choreographer Sommer Ulrickson, and sculptor Alexander Polzin. A poetic union of music, movement, sculpture and the spoken word, the project successfully premiered last season at 92nd St Y in New York and will be repeated in Lyon in Spring 2020.
Gerhardt is passionate about sharing his discoveries with audiences far beyond the traditional concert hall: outreach projects undertaken in Europe and the US have involved performances and workshops, not only in schools and hospitals, but also pioneering sessions in public spaces and young offender institutions.
His collaboration with Deutsche Bahn, involving live performances on the main commuter routes in Germany, vividly demonstrates his commitment to challenging traditional expectations of classical music. In early 2017, Gerhardt founded #Musicians4UnitedEurope, a group of international musicians working together to voice their support for a united and democratic Europe.
Alban Gerhardt plays a Matteo Gofriller cello dating from 1710.
“Gerhardt, gently authoritative, immediately captured attention with his rich tone and nuanced phrasing in the Tchaikovsky. His 1710 Goffriller cello is evidently a ravishing instrument with an especially vibrant and dark lower register. Performing the Fitzenhagen version of the Rococo Variations each section naturally acquired its own distinct character in Gerhardt’s hands and, while the virtuoso passages were dispatched with effortless panache, it was the slower variations that lingered in one’s mind.”
(Bachtrack, October 2018)
“Gerhardt brilliantly surmounted the concerto’s challenging intricate rhythms, especially in the passages of Shostakovich-like relentlessness. Sustaining a rich tone and crystalline articulation, Gerhardt was equally assured in the sections of fast virtuosic passagework, extended sequences of high harmonics and subdued sotto voce gestures.”
( Brett Dean’s dream concerto makes virtuosic bow, The Australian)
“Dream-like moments drifted into more agitated passages, Gerhardt weaving virtuosically through the orchestra, relishing the tender moments and setting off a raucous frenzy in the ensemble as the Concerto reached its climax, before winding its way to a smouldering finish, a final curl of sound spiralling upwards like smoke. The Concerto, particularly in the hands of an advocate as fine as Gerhardt, is a fascinating, multi-hued work that will no doubt reward repeated listening.”
(The Limelight, August 2018)
“Gerhardt’s technique is as formidable as his musicality. His extensive range of volumes and articulations and the energy-filled rubato (never veering towards sloppiness) made this a distinctive interpretation.”
(Australian Book Review, August 2018)
“Gerhardt produced a great piece of musical acting, musing at the start and then infused with valour. His playing was always magnificent, his tone clear and focused. He shaped Strauss’s twisting lines with great style and threw off his vaunting leaps with panache.”
(The Strad, June 2018)
“German cellist Alban Gerhardt’s approach to this concerto struck a rewarding balance between passionate yearning and driving the music forward, ever conscious of its final goal. From the passionate double-stops of the opening, Gerhardt made his cello sing, employing a wide, intense vibrato. The accompaniment by the NSO was sensitively handled, the orchestra always listening to the cello’s mellow voice and adjusting their dynamic range accordingly. Gerhardt’s laser-like intonation was particularly impressive as he soared stratospherically. […] In the third movement Lento, the orchestra and cellist breathed as one, creating a moment of serene beauty. Gerhardt’s top notes shone with ethereal splendour, while the stillness he imbued his pianissimos with were equally impressive. In the final movement, he navigated the virtuosic rhapsodic passages with all the agility and sure-footedness of a Chamonix goat.”
(Bachtrack, February 2018)
[about the Rostropovich Encores recording] “Gerhardt is very much his own man, and in Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, Debussy’s Clair de lune and Ravel’s Pièce en forme de habanera he achieves a poetic grace and calm….[He] also discovers a piquant litheness and uncluttered ease in Stravinsky’s Russian Maiden’s Song. Enhanced by lucid and expertly balanced engineering, his is a highly engaging recital.”
(The Strad, March 2017)
“Dutilleux’s music needs forthright performance if it’s not to sound precious, a lesson cellist Alban Gerhardt has clearly learned. His performance of Dutilleux’s cello concerto Tout un Monde Lointain had a noble expansiveness free of the febrile fidgety quality that can sometimes creep into Dutilleux’s fluttering gestures.”
(Daily Telegraph, May 2016)
“No praise is too high for Alban Gerhardt’s musicianship, commitment and technique.”
(International Record Review)
“The calm authority and probing insight make him one of the finest cellists around — expressive, unshowy and infinitely classy.”
“Gerhardt’s playing is phenomenal, flipping between warmth and prickly brilliance.”
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