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Pieter Wispelwey (b1962)


In his early career Pieter Wispelwey appeared rather maverick: for example, recording Vivaldi’s cello concertos with an exotic range of instruments and re-arranging them to suit his understanding of bel canto style. Having grown up in the company of period-performance artists in Holland he is thought of by some as a Baroque specialist; but his repertoire also encompasses much later music (including several works written for him) and he is equally at home on the modern cello (with either steel or gut strings) as on early instruments.

Wisplewey was born into a family of enthusiastic and able amateur musicians. There was a family string quartet led by his father and Pieter was encouraged to take up the cello at the age of eight. He later had instruction in Amsterdam from Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma before taking lessons in the USA with Paul Katz. Attending the Britten–Pears Summer School in Aldeburgh put him in contact with William Pleeth, who encouraged exploration of the dramatic potential of his music-making. This is reflected in Wispelwey’s own enthusiasm for giving master-classes (he relishes the imparting of advice quickly in a ‘staged’ setting). As a soloist Wispelwey has appeared all over the world with major ensembles and works happily with conductors of any aesthetic persuasion, amongst them modernist Kent Nagano and period-performance enthusiasts Frans Brüggen and Roger Norrington.

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