Simon Wallfisch is unique in the musical world as both an accomplished cellist and much-respected singer. This programme will showcase both these skills to great effect alongside the Fitzwilliam Quartet, in a selection of works for voice and strings from both sides of the Atlantic, culminating in one of the greatest works of chamber music, Franz Schubert’s mighty Quintet in C.
Simon Wallfisch (baritone/cello)
Lucy Russell (violin)
Marcus Barcham-Stephens (violin)
Alan George (viola)
Sally Pendlebury (cello)
Schubert arr. Wallfisch Four Lieder (selections)
Barber arr. Wallfisch Three Songs (selections)
Barber Dover Beach Op.3
Schubert String Quintet in C D956
“A multi-talented musician of incredible versatility” (BBC Radio 3), Simon Wallfisch is one of Britain’s most sought after Baritones, at home on the opera and concert stage. In 2017, Simon Wallfisch performed as soloist at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, sang leading roles at the Nürnberg Staatsoper and recorded his third Song CD for Nimbus Records entitled: “Gesänge des Orients”.
Born in London into a musical family, Simon Wallfisch studied cello, voice and conducting at the Royal College of Music between 2000 and 2006. During his studies in London, he was awarded several prizes including The Georg Solti Foundation, Emmy Destinn Foundation, Giuseppe Di Stefano Competition Sicily, The DAAD, Countess of Munster Trust, The English Speaking Union and the Royal Overseas League “Young Singer of Promise” 2005.
In 2006 Wallfisch left London for studies in Berlin (Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik 2006-2007) and Leipzig (Hochschule für Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy 2007-2009) During this time he appeared as guest artist at the Leipzig Opera, Magdeburg Opera, Dessau Opera, Altenburg-Gera Opera, Potsdam Sans Souci Schlosstheater, and the Ludwigsberger Schloss Festspiele.
Subsequently he was engaged at the International Opera Studio of the Zurich Opera House (2009-2011) singing many roles on the main stage. Recent operatic roles include FIERAMOSCA in Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini (Staatsoper Nürnberg 2016) MARCELLO Puccini La Boheme (Teatro Verdi Casciana Terme, Pisa 2016) ESCAMILLO La Tragedie de Carmen (National Reis Opera, Holland 2013). PELLEAS and ALBERT (English Touring Opera 2015).
Simon Wallfisch’s numerous television broadcasts include as a conductor and solo cellist on BBC 2 in January 2015 performing for the International Holocaust Memorial Day, and has been featured artist on various documentaries for Arte and ZDF. Live performances and recordings of Simon Wallfisch have broadcast on BBC Radio 3, NDR2, Bayerische Rundfunk, Swiss Radio and France Musique.
His growing number of recordings with regular duo partner Edward Rushton include Songs of Geoffrey Bush on Lyrita Records and French Songs on Nimbus Records, with a new album: Gesänge des Orients coming out at the end of 2017 on Nimbus. He will also be recording a new work by Thea Musgrave for Lyrita records in 2018, songs by Cyril Scott 2018, and songs by Max Kowalski 2019.
In international demand as recitalist, Simon is passionate about Lieder and Song, and his unique style of combining cello and voice has brought him to concert halls all over the world, including Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Oxford Lieder Festival, Jacqueline du Pré concert hall Oxford, The Purcell Room, Kings Place and the Royal Festival Hall. UK festivals include Leamington, Wimbledon, London Song Schubert Society of Great Britain, Allwyn Festival and many others. He is invited to festivals in Denmark, Sweden, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Australia and Canada. Simon has collaborated with pianists and ensembles including The Nash Ensemble, Edward Rushton, Iain Farrington, Lada Valesova, Graham Johnson and Julius Drake.
As Oratorio soloist, Simon has performed works from Bach to Janacek at the Bridgewater Hall Manchester, Cadogan Hall London, Thomas Kirche Leipzig and Berlin Philharmonie.This year, he sang Christmas Oratorio with the Brighton Early Music Festival.
As educator and conductor, Simon has worked extensively with Aldeburgh Young Musicians, Birmingham Conservatoire, Jerusalem Music Centre Schwerin international Music Festival among others and continues to be in high demand as voice and cello teacher. He will be music director of a summer music course focussing on repertoire performed in the Terezin Ghetto 1941-1944 at Osnabrück Hochschule für Musik in 2018.
He is a trustee of the International Centre for Supressed Music (ICSM) dedicated to research and performance of suppressed composers, notably those whose voices were silenced by the third Reich and whose legacies are only now slowly coming back into public spaces.
The Fitzwilliam Quartet is now one of the longest established string quartets in the world: founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the group quickly achieved international recognition as a result of its members’ personal friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich and their subsequent championing of his string quartets following his death. He entrusted them with the Western premières of the last three, and before long they had become the first ever group to perform and record all fifteen. These discs, which gained many international awards, secured for them a worldwide concert schedule and a long term recording contract with Decca. Whilst the FSQ’s pre-eminence in the interpretation of these works has persisted, the authority gained has also been put at the service of diverse other composers, from the late 17th century to the present day. It remains one of the few prominent quartets to play on historical instrument set-ups, but has simultaneously brought about the addition of over 50 new works to the repertoire. Its involvement in 2013 with celebrating Britten’s anniversary, and before that the chamber works of Delius and Grainger, are but two recent manifestations of the players’ enthusiasm for using anniversaries to promote less familiar music – following Vaughan Williams in 2008: thus it would appear that England is gradually taking its place alongside Russia and Vienna as a principal area of speciality, while in 2015 they looked further north, to honour the joint 150th birthdays of Glazunov, Sibelius and Carl Nielsen.
The last two or three years have witnessed an increase in the their presence on the British festival scene, with invitations from Petworth, Three Choirs, Leamington, Buxton, Ryedale, City of London, Fishguard, Swaledale, English Haydn, Beverley Early Music – during which time they have also been granted their very own chamber music festival in the prestigious “town of books” – Hay-on-Wye. Similarly, they have become more prominent once again in London, notably at King’s Place, Conway Hall, and St John’s Smith Square.
2018 will begin with the realisation of a long term ambition to record Beethoven and Schubert quartets on gut strings, following the success of previous recordings on historical instruments: the plan is to begin with a CD of the former’s Opp.74/95/135. Thereafter, ideas are already forming for a big celebration of the quartet’s 50th anniversary season in 2018/9.
(Photo: Fitzwilliam Quartet © Benjamin Harte)