Music Director Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony join cellist Zuill Bailey in live performances of the great tone poem Don Quixote by Richard Strauss and William Walton’s rhapsodic cello concerto.
This album is part of a series of live recordings that cellist Zuill Bailey has made with Music Director Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony. These include Benjamin Britten’s Cello Symphony, the Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra by Sergei Prokofiev, and Brahms’s Concerto in A minor for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, Op. 201 — known as his “Double” Concerto. These recordings have been hailed as artistic triumphs, praised for their vivid reproduction of live performance sound. This album is no exception and captures live performances (from April 5 and 6, 2019) of William Walton’s Cello Concerto (1957) and Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, Op. 35 (1897).
Bailey sees this record as a celebration of the 16-season tenure of Grant Llewellyn, who announced that 2019-20 would be his last as Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony. Bailey has enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with Llewellyn and the orchestra over the years, noting that several of his performances have allowed him to showcase pieces that are underplayed.
A case in point is the Walton Cello Concerto, which was commissioned by the great cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, who premiered the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Munch in 1957. Another infrequently programmed work is Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, a tone poem for cello, viola, and orchestra with the subtitle, “Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character.” Bailey says the work offers a rare chance for a cellist to “engage with the music of Richard Strauss” in an orchestral context.
“Bailey acts as a clear channel for Walton's intentions without forcing his own personality on the music, yet he puts plenty of feeling in it.”
Art Music Lounge
“The Walton concerto is an ideal vehicle for cellist Bailey, who grew up listening to Mstislav Rostropovich, a champion of this work; his big-hearted style may bring that Russian master to mind.”
About the Artists
Zuill Bailey, widely considered one of the premiere cellists in the world, is a Grammy Award winning, internationally renowned soloist, recitalist, Artistic Director and teacher. His rare combination of celebrated artistry, technical wizardry and engaging personality has secured his place as one of the most sought after and active cellists today.
A consummate concerto soloist, Mr. Bailey has been featured with symphony orchestras worldwide, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Indianapolis, Dallas, Louisville, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Nashville, Toronto, Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, Israel, Cape Town, Philharmonia (UK), and the Bruchner Orchestra in Linz, Austria. He has collaborated with such conductors as Itzhak Perlman, Alan Gilbert, Andrew Litton, Neeme Järvi, Giancarlo Guerrero, James DePriest, Jun Märkl, Carlos Kalmar, Andrey Boreyko, Krzysztof Urbanski, Jacques Lacombe, Grant Llewellyn, and Stanislav Skrowaczewski. He also has been featured with musical luminaries Leon Fleisher, Jaime Laredo, the Juilliard String Quartet, Lynn Harrell, and Janos Starker.
Mr. Bailey has appeared at Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, the United Nations, Alice Tully Hall, 92nd St. Y, and Carnegie Hall, where he made his concerto debut performing the U.S. premiere of Mikis Theodorakis’s Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. In addition, he made his New York recital debut in a sold-out performance of the complete Beethoven Cello Sonatas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bailey also presented the U.S. premiere of the Nico Muhly Cello Concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. World premieres include works by composers such as Lowell Liebermann, Philip Lasser, Roberto Sierra, Alistair Coleman, Benjamin Wallfisch, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Jeff Lippencott, and Michael Daugherty.
Zuill Bailey is a renowned recording artist with over thirty titles. Mr. Bailey won a best solo performance Grammy Award in 2017 for his live recording of Tales of Hemingway by composer Michael Daugherty. His celebrated Bach Cello Suites, Britten Cello Symphony/Sonata with pianist Natasha Paremski, Haydn Cello Concertos, and recently released Schumann/Brahms Concertos CDs immediately soared to the number one spot on the Classical Billboard Charts. Other critically acclaimed recordings include his live performances with the Indianapolis Symphony of the Bloch Schelomo, Muhly Cello Concerto (World Premiere), Brahms Sextets with the Cypress Strings Quartet, Elgar and Dvorak Cello Concertos, described by Gramophone magazine as the new “reference” recording and one that “sweeps the board.” In addition, the Dvorak Cello Concerto CD is listed in the Penguin’s Guide as one the Top 1000 Classical Recordings of all time. Other releases include his innovative Spanish Masters CD for Zenph Studios, where he forms a unique duo blending with recordings of composer Manuel de Falla, and an all-American recital program with pianist Lara Downes on the Steinway & Sons label.
Mr. Bailey received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. His primary teachers include Loran Stephenson, Stephen Kates, and Joel Krosnick. Mr. Bailey performs on the "rosette" 1693 Matteo Goffriller Cello, formerly owned by Mischa Schneider of the Budapest String Quartet. In addition to his extensive solo touring engagements, he is the Artistic Director of El Paso Pro-Musica (Texas), the Sitka Summer Music Festival/Series and Cello Seminar (Alaska), Juneau Jazz and Classics (Alaska), the Northwest Bach Festival (Washington), Classical Inside Out Series at the Mesa Arts Center (Arizona), and is Director of the Center for Arts Entrepreneurship and professor of cello at the University of Texas at El Paso.
A violist of international reputation, Roberto Díaz is president and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music, following in the footsteps of renowned soloist/directors such as Josef Hofmann, Efrem Zimbalist, and Rudolf Serkin.
As a soloist, Mr. Díaz collaborates with leading conductors of our time on stages throughout the world. He has also worked directly with important 20th- and 21st-century composers, including Krzysztof Penderecki—whose viola concerto he has performed numerous times with the composer on the podium and whose double concerto he premiered in the United States—as well as Edison Denisov, Jennifer Higdon, Ricardo Lorenz, and Roberto Sierra.
A frequent recitalist, Mr. Díaz enjoys collaborating with young musicians, bringing a fresh approach to the repertoire and providing invaluable opportunities to artists at the beginning of their careers. In addition to performing with major string quartets and pianists in chamber music series and festivals worldwide, he is a member of the Díaz Trio. His recordings include a Grammy-winning performance of the Jennifer Higdon Viola Concerto, a Grammy-nominated disc of viola transcriptions by William Primrose for Naxos, and releases on the Artek, Bridge Records, Dorian, Nimbus, and New World labels.
In addition to his decade-long tenure as principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Mr. Díaz was also principal viola of the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich, and was a member of the Boston Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, where he continues to serve on the faculty, holding the James and Betty Matarese Chair in Viola Studies and the Nina von Maltzahn President's Chair. Mr. Díaz plays the ex-Primrose Amati viola.
Conductor Grant Llewellyn is renowned for his exceptional charisma, energy, and easy authority in music of all styles and periods. He has been Music Director of the North Carolina Symphony since 2004 and becomes Music Director Laureate in the 2020/21 season.
As Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the early 1990s, he conducted at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and in classical series and Boston Pops concerts. As Music Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, he gained a reputation as a formidable interpreter of music of the Baroque and Classical periods.
Llewellyn is Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne and has held positions with numerous other European orchestras — including Principal Conductor of the Royal Flanders Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. He has a continuing relationship with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, leading them on tour to Patagonia and South America, joining their 90th anniversary celebrations, and conducting their Proms in the Park in 2018.
Each year, the North Carolina Symphony’s 300 concerts, education programs, and community engagement events are enjoyed by 250,000 people across the state of North Carolina. The Symphony’s musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn, delivering orchestral experiences of the highest quality and collaborating with renowned performers that range from classical artists, to bluegrass musicians, to jazz bands. Founded in 1932, NCS was the first state-supported orchestra in the United States.
The North Carolina Symphony is based in the state capital of Raleigh and travels more than 18,500 miles each year for performances throughout North Carolina. NCS leads the most extensive education program of any symphony orchestra, engaging 70,000 students annually.
Dedicated to giving voice to new art, NCS has presented 56 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In 2017, NCS appeared at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras—an honor that recognized the Symphony’s creative programming and innovative community partnerships.
About Steinway & Sons label
The Steinway & Sons music label was founded in 2010 and has produced many phenomenal albums since its inception. Recordings on the Steinway & Sons record label can be purchased through Amazon, Apple Music and other fine retailers around the globe. This collaboration under the umbrella of the historic Steinway & Sons is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.