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Mischa Maisky performs Benjamin Yusupovs Cello Concerto on Deutsche Grammophon

For many years, cellist Mischa Maisky has been a close friend and interpreter of Russian-Israeli composer Benjamin Yusupov. On his latest album for Deutsche Grammophon entitled "20th Century Classics" Maisky has recorded works with his daughter, pianist Lily Maisky. Yusupov's violoncello concerto, a longtime favourite of the star cellist, naturally had to be included.The work, written in 2006, is a repertoire classic of New Music for cello. Mischa Maisky and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the composer have succeeded in making a true reference recording.

Commenting on his relationship with Mischa Maisky and his Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, Benjamin Yusupov says:

"Modernism as a trend in art died 30 years ago, but not everyone is aware of this, as old-fashioned schemes and ideas are constantly being redesigned. Art must be unique. What is postmodernism? Is it a kaleidoscope of unusual compositions, stylistic contrasts and unfeasible possibilities?
The idea for this concert was born a long time ago. I had been thinking for quite some time about treating the cello as a singing instrument, as the ‘soul’ of the artist and as the pure and innocent world of a human being.
Since my youth I have felt Mischa Maisky’s extraordinary technique to be an example of such a way of playing. The sound of his cello, its emotionality and seriousness have always fascinated me and stimulated my imagination.I was happy when I was given the opportunity, thanks to the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra’s commission for a composition, to create this musical portrait and to write a cello concerto for him on the occasion of Mischa Maisky's 60th birthday.
The concert consists of four movements, played without an intermission. It is the story of an artist who fights, suffers and struggles to find his own way of self-development in our terrible world. In the first movement the artist is full of strength, hope, plans and musical ideas.Emotionality overwhelms him.
The moving melody is repeated several times in the highest register and describes the different sides of his personality. The second movement, composed in waltz rhythm, is a kind of illusion: the hero tries to escape reality and enter the realm of his illusions and dreams. But with each attempt reality (represented by the orchestra tutti) catches up with him again. Routine destroys his sweet illusions, his unfinished innocent melody.The conflict of the desperate composer constantly escalates and culminates in the cadenza of the second movement. In the third movement, the hero, broken by the struggle, tries to behave according to social expectations and accept their rules and principles. Three themes follow one after the other: The first is a sensual gypsy melody, constantly accelerating, which merges into the second theme, the banal Russian street song ‘Kupitebubliki’ (‘Buy Doughnuts’). This song, used several times in musical literature, is a symbol of superficiality. The third wave arrives as a grotesque folk dance full of virtuosity and fire. Finally, in the last section of the movement, all three themes sound simultaneously, creating the chaos and cacophony of a drunken orgy. The music reaches a dramatic climax, in which powerful tutti passages of the orchestra and the wailing cello face each other. The artist understands that he cannot behave the way society expects him to, his unique character cannot adapt to the rhythm of the outside world, his personality is unparalleled. The fourth movement (epilogue) is made up of tender and lonely beautiful sounds, like a long dream the artist has traversed throughout his entire life ... And he shares his dream with the world."

Benjamin Yusupov:
Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra
Lucerne Symphony Orchestra; conductor:
Benjamin Yusupov
DG 483 7289