Pieter Wispelwey (Haarlem, 1962) is a Dutch cello player. In 1992 he was the first cellist ever to receive the Netherlands Music Prize, given to the most promising young musician in the Netherlands. In the last decade he has been regarded as one of the leading cello soloists. This was not always so: in his twenties Pieter was considered by some to be both an enfant terrible and was typecast as a baroque cellist by others.
Pieter Wispelwey was born in the Netherlands and grew up in Santpoort. Since the age of 19 he has resided in Amsterdam. From a very early age he was exposed to the sounds of his father's amateur string quartet when they rehearsed at the Wispelwey home. Later on he took lessons from Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma in Amsterdam, followed by studies with Paul Katz in the USA and William Pleeth in the UK.
In 1990 his first recording with Channel Classics, the Bach Cello Suites, received considerable acclaim. The support of Channel Classics has enabled him to record his own choice of repertoire, with his own choice of artists and orchestras. This has resulted in records with unusual repertoire such as Schubert violin sonatinas, Chopin Waltzes, mazurkas and preludes and the Bach Gamba sonatas played with his own personal intrumentations.
Wispelwey has appeared as recitalist all over the world including the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Wigmore Hall (London), Chatelet (Paris), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires) and Sydney Opera House. He has appeared with many orchestras and ensembles both with and without a conductor. Notable projects without conductor have been the touring and recording of the Schumann and Shostakovich cello concertos with the Australian Chamber Orchestra under their musical director Richard Tognetti. He has also appeared with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Russian National Symphony, Camerata Academica Salzburg, Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and others and has recorded with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.
Wispelwey is comfortable playing the modern cello with either metal or gut strings and alsoon the baroque 4 and 5 string cello. This allows him a repertoire ranging from Bach to Elliott Carter. Gowing up exposed to period instruments as a norm Pieter developed a conviction that, under the right conditions, much 18th and 19th century music sounds superior when played on gut strings than on metal. But he is not a purist but rather a practical musician and plays a modern cello if conditions make it sound better than a period instrument.
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