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Biography

Pieter was born in Haarlem in theNetherlands in 1962 and grew up with his two younger brothers in Santpoort,where his parents still live. At the age of 19 he moved to Amsterdam and hasremained in the same 17th century house on the Noordermarkt ever since.Pieter's diverse musical personality is rooted in the training hereceived-firstly from regular exposure from a very early age to his father'samateur string quartet when they rehearsed at the Wispelwey home, to lessonswith Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma in Amsterdam followed by studies with PaulKatz in the USA and William Pleeth in the UK. It was also Dicky Boeke whoencouraged him to listen to as much music as possible but particularly sowedthe seeds for his love of Renaissance music (Italian and English madrigalists!)and German Lied. These genres, particularly the performances of DietrichFischer Diskau, have been a constant source of inspiration for Pieter. In 1990his first recording with Channel Classics, The Bach Cello Suites, was releasedto great acclaim and in 1992 he was the first cellist ever to receive theNetherlands Music Prize, which is endowed upon the most promising youngmusician in the Netherlands; thus his path was secured to the busy and variedcareer he has today.

 

Pieter has always been at home on themodern cello with metal and/or gut strings as he is on the baroque 4 string and5 string cello. Therefore he covers a repertoire from JS Bach to Elliott Carterdrawing on a palett of sounds and colours available from his range of instruments,string set-ups and bows. Having grown up in an age and country where hearingperiod instruments was very much the norm for concert-goers, Pieter naturallydeveloped his conviction that, in the right conditions, much 18th and 19thcentury music sounds far better on gut strings than on metal. However he is nota purist in the sense that if conditions are less than ideal (no fortepiano,too big a hall, too hot, too humid, too dry acoustically etc.) then he is morethan happy to pick up his modern cello with metal strings (which therefor isquite often the case).

 

Recitals have always played a major part inPieter's concert diary. As a recitalist with piano, he has all the mainrepertoire at his disposal which is always ready for performance, often at veryshort notice. He is not, and has never been, the type of soloist who tours theworld with one or two recital programmes and a couple of concertos per season.On the contrary, a typical week in Pieter's life (if one can be said to exist)could well include the Bach suites, with perhaps 2 different recitalprogrammes, a couple of concerto appearances with a student masterclass thrownin for good measure! He has appeared as recitalist all over the world includingthe Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Wigmore Hall (London), Chatelet (Paris), TeatroColon (Buenos Aires) and Sydney Opera House. Future exciting engagementsinclude Bach and Britten suites at the Lincoln Centre, New York and a returnvisit to the Edinburgh Festival.

 

Pieter has appeared with a variety oforchestras and ensembles both with and without conductors. Notable projectswithout conductors have been the touring and recording of the Schumann andShostakovich cello concertos with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Thisorchestra has, without doubt, provided for Pieter the happiest and mostsatisfying musical collaborations of his career to date, not least due to thegenius of leader and musical director, Richard Tognetti. He has also appeared,with conductor, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC symphonyorchestra, the Russian National Symphony, Camerata Academica Salzburg, MahlerChamber Orchestra and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen to name but a fewand has recorded with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the NetherlandsRadio Philharmonic. Future engagements with orchestras include the Halle, theJapan Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Herbert Blomstedtand the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Marc Minkowsky.

 

Pieter considers himself extremely luckythat, despite the demise of the classical recording industry, he is in aposition, thanks to the support of his record label Channel Classics, to beable to record his own choice of repertoire with his own choice of artists andorchestras. This freedom has resulted in the conception of CD's with unusuallyimaginative repertoire such as Schubert violin sonatinas, Chopin Waltzes,Mazurkas and Preludes and the Bach Gamba sonatas with his own personalintrumentations. All titles that major labels would undoubtedly have shied awayfrom. The latter would also be true for his 2nd Bach suites recording, thedecision to record Schumann and Shostakovich cello concerti without conductorand his recent plan to re-record the Brahms and Beethoven sonatas. But maybewhat he appreciates most about Channel Classics is the fact that he is allowedcomplete hands-on control over the producing and, more importantly, the editingand post production processes, his involvement even stretching to writing textsfor the CD booklets.

 

During the last decade he has been regardedas one of the leading cello soloists. Interestingly enough, when in histwenties Pieter was both considered an enfant terrible and stigmatized as abaroque cellist by some. His image as enfant terrible might have been caused bythe fact that Pieter never opted for the mainstream career approach, including"useful" teachers and competitions. He chose to stay loyal to thesmall label Channel Classics and couldn't help being quite outspoken ininterviews. In his first two years as recording artist, when he did thecomplete Bach and Beethoven on period instruments, he made sure, to avoid thedevelopment of the wrong image, that he also recorded the complete Brittensuites and the Kodaly sonata. Although the Britten got a great reception it wasto no immediate avail. At first he used to regret his baroque stigma, but laterhe had to admit that the Bach suites had sent him all over the world.

 

Crucial for the broadening of hisreputation was that, from the mid-nineties onwards, Channel Classics was ableto organise the recording of the main concerto repertoire. For the near futureeverything is set to record remaining "biggies", like the 2ndShostakovich, the Prokofiev, Dutilleux, Britten and Walton.

This biography was most recently edited by...
concertgebouwleiden - 16 Jul 2009
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