One of the most versatile and original Cellists of his generation, Adrian Brendel has travelled the world as soloist, collaborator and teacher. His early immersion in the core classical repertoire inspired an enduring fascination that has led to encounters with many fine musicians at the world’s most prestigious festivals and concert halls. His discovery of contemporary music through the works of Kurtag, Kagel and Ligeti in his teenage years opened a new and vital avenue that he continues to explore with huge enthusiasm alongside his passion for jazz and world music.
photo by Jack Liebeck
Adrian first studied the cello with William Pleeth, with whom he developed a deep attachment to chamber music. He then went on to study with Alexander Baillie and Frans Helmerson in London and Cologne, also frequently attending the masterclasses of Gyorgy Kurtag, Ferenc Rados, members of the Alban Berg quartet and his father Alfred Brendel. An acclaimed recording of Beethoven’s cello sonatas with his father is available on the Philips label, recorded during their recital tours of 2003/2004. Projects with contemporary composers and conductors during this time such as Kurtag, Thomas Ades and Peter Eotvos amongst many inspired him to cultivate new music in his concert programmes wherever possible. A recent three year project with Sir Harrison Birtwistle has led to premieres of his song cycle ‘Bogenstrich’ and a piano trio due for release on the ECM label in 2013. He also premieres York Hoeller’s cello concerto ‘Mouvements’ in January of the same year with NDR Hamburg alongside Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s ‘Canto di Speranza’.
In great demand as a recitalist and soloist, Adrian works with Aleksandar Madzar, Imogen Cooper, Till Fellner, Tim Horton and Kit Armstrong. His chamber music partners include Henning Kraggerud, Lisa Batiashvili, Lars-Anders Tomter, Andrej Bielow, Katharine Gowers and Alasdair Beatson to name a few. Over the last two years he has visited the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Verbier, Ernen, Salzburg, Sonoro, Enescu, Schubertiade and Ruhr international festivals, and is a frequent visitor to London’s Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonie, Vienna Musikverein, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and many other important venues in Europe. He has performed concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, RSNO, SCO and many orchestras across Germany and eastern Europe. His annual visit to the International Musicians’ Seminar in Prussia Cove, founded by the late Sandor Vegh as a perfect environment for music-making, is of great personal and artistic importance.
Adrian is artistic director of the Plush festival, held every summer in Plush, Dorset since 1995. The programme is devoted to classical and contemporary chamber music, Lieder recitals, modern jazz, folk and world music concerts, featuring over 100 contemporary works and 200 musicians from around the world. The summer of 2012 saw performances of Nancarrow, Cage, Brett Dean, Birtwistle, Lindberg, Carter and Messiaen alongside Schubert’s trios, Janacek’s quartets, Beethoven and Brahms. Performers over the years have included Radu Lupu, Mark Padmore, Paul Lewis, Louis Lortie, Miklos Perenyi, Anthony Marwood and Lawrence Power.
Fortunately for an itinerant musician, travel is a passion for Adrian. He has participated in musical outreach projects as far afield as Bolivia, Argentina, Ukraine, Romania and east Africa in recent years, for example to present Baaba Maal’s Senegalese music festival from Podor for BBC Radio 4 in December 2012. He broadcasts regularly for radio stations around the world, most recently recording an album with Nils Wogram’s modern jazz group Root70 for Deutschlandfunk in October. Attempts to broaden his and the cello’s musical horizons have fostered projects with a range of different artists, more recently including Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Stian Carstensen, Patti Smith and Argentinian Bandoneonist Marcelo Nisinman.
Outside of his performing life, Adrian divides his time between south London, Berlin and Plush.