Cellist Alexander (Sandy) Baillie and pianist John Thwaites celebrate their 35-year duo-partnership and Sandy’s 60th Birthday in a showcase concert featuring Cello Sonatas by Richard Rodney Bennett, John Ireland and Brahms on Saturday 7th May 2016 at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, London EC1V 9NG, at 7.30 p.m., and perform live on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune' on Tuesday 3rd May.
Described by Stephen Pritchard in The Observer as "an outstanding partnership”; Sandy and duo-partner John Thwaites, who is best known for his collaborative work with strings and a founder member of the Primrose Piano Quartet, have recently recorded the Brahms Cello Sonatas for release on the SOMM label in July and these works form part of their celebratory concert.
"Sandy and I will be the first to release recordings of this repertoire using period pianos”, explained John Thwaites. We include a transcription of the 'Four Serious Songs', and use three pianos in the Viennese collection of Gert Hecher: an 1860's Rönisch, 1870's Ehrbar and 1880's Streicher. In addition to their historic authenticity, all these pianos make a truly beautiful sound."
Well-known for their championing of British twentieth-century repertoire, which include the Sonatas by Bridge, Ireland, Rubbra, Delius, Ivor Keyes and Rebecca Clarke; their recording of these works on the SOMM label was described by BBC Music Magazine as “…probably the best of the current versions.” The Cello Sonata by John Ireland, a work which also features in the Birthday recital, being described by The Observer as “rewarding and perfectly judged.”
Also featured in the programme is the Sonata for Cello and Piano by Richard Rodney Bennett, being given a first London performance by its dedicatee. The work was commissioned by the Harrogate International Festival and written in New York City in 1991, the composer later inscribing on the cover page of the manuscript that "no-one will ever play this better than A. Baillie." The Sonata is to be recorded for Volume II of ‘Twentieth-Century British Cello Sonatas’ which is due for release shortly on the SOMM label.
Alexander Baillie is internationally recognised as one of the finest cellists of his generation. He began playing at the comparatively late age of twelve having been directly inspired by the late Jacqueline du Pré. He went on to study at London's Royal College of Music with Joan Dickson and Anna Shuttleworth and with André Navarra in Vienna.
Sandy has performed with many of the top orchestras and conductors, appearing regularly as cello soloist in concertos, recitals, masterclasses and festivals throughout the world, including several appearances at the BBC Proms.
Notable first performances of contemporary works, often written for him, have included Penderecki, Hans Werner Henze, Takemitsu, Colin Matthews and H.K.Gruber. Recordings include the Tippett Triple Concerto with the composer conducting, and the Shostakovich first Concerto with the Boston Philharmonic under Benjamin Zander. His recording of the Britten Cello Suites achieved the highest acclaim in the New York press, and of the performance of the Dutilleux Cello Concerto with the Boston Philharmonic, the composer was heard to say that it was the finest performance of his work that he had ever heard.
A passionate and motivational teacher, Sandy continues to be in demand as Professor of Cello at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen in Germany and as visiting Professor at the Birmingham Conservatoire. He is founder member of the ‘Gathering of the Clans’ Cello School.