Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is to release a recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with the London Symphony conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
The announcement came just two days after the centenary of the Concerto’s premiere, and Kanneh-Mason’s relationship with the work in concert (including a performance at this year’s Proms) and now on record demonstrates its continuing power and impact (something discussed by Julian Lloyd Webber in a special Gramophone podcast marking the anniversary – listen to it here). Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in June, the album will be released on the Decca Classics label on January 10.
‘I first heard [the Concerto] when I was four or five, watching DVD performances of Jacqueline du Pré and listening to her phenomenal CD recording from 1965’, recalls the cellist. ‘I started learning to play it with a score in my music lessons when I was around seven years old, picking up sections of it from listening to recordings then recreating it for my teacher. Even at that age, I had the ambition of performing the work live; and my family were of course a very encouraging first audience!’
The work will be accompanied on his album by a number of pieces by composers including Julius Klengel, Gabriel Fauré, Ernst Bloch, as well as Frank Bridge’s Spring Song (with the Heath Quartet), and newly arranged versions of ‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s Enigma Variations and the traditional songs Scarborough Fair and Blow the Wind Southerly (the latter inspired by Kathleen Ferrier’s 1949 Decca recording).
Kanneh-Mason’s extraordinary profile for a young classical artist began when he won BBC Young Musician in 2016; he signed to Decca the following year, releasing his debut album ‘Inspiration’ in January 2018 – ‘a most rewarding CD’ wrote Rob Cowan in Gramophone – before performing at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that May.