Acclaimed worldwide for his profound musicianship and technical mastery, British cellist Steven Isserlis enjoys a uniquely varied and distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, author and broadcaster. As a concerto soloist he appears with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, including the Berlin Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, London Philharmonic and Zurich Tonhalle orchestras, He gives recitals every season in major musical centres, and plays with many of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras, including the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and the Australian, Mahler, Norwegian, Scottish, Zurich and St Paul Chamber Orchestras, as well as period-instrument ensembles such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Unusually, he also directs chamber orchestras from the cello. He works with many contemporary composers and regularly premieres new works on the international concert stage. Recent performing highlights include his debut with Dresden Staatskapelle, and as Artist-in-Residence with Kammerakademie Potsdam.
On 21 June 2019 Steven performed with his close friend Radu Lupu at Lupu’s final-ever concert with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, where Steven directed pieces including Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 in A, K488, with Lupu as soloist. Other appearances include with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Salzburg Mozartwoche; the US premiere of Thomas Adès’s Lieux retrouvés with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, following world and UK premieres in Lucerne and at the BBC Proms, and a further performance of the work in Amsterdam with the Britten Sinfonia, all conducted by the composer; Prokofiev’s Concerto Op. 58 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski, in London and at the Dresden Music Festival; Haydn’s C major Concerto with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Adam Fischer; and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 on an Australian tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he has curated series for many of the world’s most famous festivals and venues, including the Wigmore Hall, the 92nd St Y in New York, and the Edinburgh, Verbier and Salzburg Festivals. Recent highlights include a major exploration of two musical visionaries to whom he feels particularly close and is an enthusiastic champion: Gabriel Fauré and Robert Schumann, performed over a series of four concerts at the Wigmore Hall.
A specially-devised new programme ‘Composers and their Muses’, exploring three pairs of composers who provided mutual inspiration for each other’s compositions – Clara and Robert Schumann, Vitezslava Kaprálová and her teacher Martinů and Augusta Holmès and her teacher César Franck, was performed with pianist Connie Shih and performed at Wigmore Hall and on tours of the US and Japan. Other specially devised programmes have included ‘In the Shadow of War’, a major four-part series for the Wigmore Hall to mark the centenary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War; explorations of Czech music; the teacher-pupil line of Saint-Saëns, Fauré and Ravel; ‘Cello and Voice’, a unique series of three programmes exploring the affinity of the cello and the human voice; varied aspects of Robert Schumann’s life and music; and the music of Sergei Taneyev (teacher of Steven’s grandfather, julius Isserlis) and his friends and students.
For these concerts Steven was joined by a regular group of friends which includes the violinists Joshua Bell, Isabelle Faust, Pamela Frank, and Janine Jansen, violist Tabea Zimmermann, and pianists Jeremy Denk, Stephen Hough, Alexander Melnikov, Olli Mustonen, Connie Shih, and Dénes Várjon. In 2019, he also undertook a major US tour with his longtime friends and collaborators Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk, performing trios by Mendelssohn, Shostakovich, Ravel and Rachmaninov On his 60th Birthday on 19 December 2018, Steven was joined by a group of his closest musical friends Radu Lupu (in a rare guest appearance), Sir András Schiff, Connie Shih, Ferenc Rados, Joshua Bell, and Sir Simon Keenlyside, both performing with and for him. Isserlis also performed the world premiere of For Steven Isserlis 60, composed especially for him by Márta and György Kurtág. The concert was preceded with favourite literary readings by actor Gabriel Woolf.