Chinese cellist Yibai Chen performs Celloconcerto nr.1 of Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the most challenging pieces in the cello repertoire. With this virtuoso and emotional piece, Yibai Chen won the second prize in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2022.
The First cello concerto by Shostakovich is an important piece of the 20th-century cello literature. The piece was composed for famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich in 1959. The fresh, intense rhythmic first and third movements contrast with the melancholic second movement. The four-note motif - DSCH - allows Shostakovich to consciously put his musical signature on the piece several times.
The piece is an example of Shostakovich’s characteristic style, in which he combines elements from Russian folk music with modern harmonies and dissonant sounds.
Conductor Hugh Wolff then takes on the Third symphony by Beethoven, also known as Eroica. This piece is remarkable not only because of its form, but mainly because of its content. Beethoven dedicated the symphony to the revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte, but when the latter crowned himself emperor, Beethoven changed his mind and removed the dedication. Nonetheless, this symphony retains its programmatic character and Beethoven expresses his admiration for heroic ideals. Eventually, he had the piece published with the subtitle “Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire di un grand’uomo” (heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man).
"Le Chinois Yibai Chen … tout chez lui est chaleur, rondeur, lumière et surtout liberté. Il ne joue pas du violoncelle, il respire, chante, raconte la musique, avec un naturel égal à sa maîtrise technique." (Martine Mergeay in La Libre Belgique)
with Yibai Chen (cello) and Hugh Wolff (conductor) orchestra Belgian National Orchestra