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Paul Watkins (b1970)

Welshman Paul Watkins had a distinguished training on the cello with William Pleeth, Johannes Goritzki and Melissa Phelps, thus drawing on the older traditions of Klengel, Navarra, Casals, Cassadó and Tortelier – an international mélange characteristic of the latter half of the twentieth century. Success in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition and appointment as principal cellist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the unusually young age of twenty brought Watkins to prominence. He has since paired his cello-playing with conducting and is equally well-known in this capacity, no doubt applying valuable insights from his position in the BBC Symphony. Watkins took over from David Finckel as cellist of the Emerson Quartet at the end of the 2012–2013 season, adding chamber music to his portfolio of major interests.

A penchant for twentieth-century British composition in Watkins’s discography is unsurprising: his brother is composer and pianist Huw Watkins. Traits of emotional and intellectual intensity show in his choice of repertory and in his manner of playing it; as observed with several other conductor-performers in this book, the activity of conducting tends to bring a sense of architectural design and direction to a performer’s instrumental interpretations, and Watkins’s performances reflect this.




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