Dai Miyata has been playing the cello since he was three years old and has won all competitions since the age of nine. He was also the first Japanese to win the first prize at the 9th Rostropovich Competition in 2009, thus finally climbing the Olympus of the international virtuoso world. In a current co-production with DENON, MDG presents the artist, who is still far too little known in this country, with a very special programme: Edward Elgar's popular cello concerto meets the "Dark Pastoral", which David Matthews has recreated from unfinished drafts by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The Cello Concerto is Elgar's last completed major work. Begun towards the end of the First World War in a rural idyll, it carries a tone of melancholy that is unusual for the British national composer. The four-movement arrangement is more reminiscent of a baroque concerto grosso than of the romantic virtuoso concertos. And yet - or is it precisely because of this? - it continues to enjoy great popularity with the public.
But the circumstances of the 1919 premiere were anything but conducive: there was hardly any rehearsal time, the conductor had his hands full with Scriabin's "Poème de l'Extase", so Elgar himself took the podium of the London Symphony Orchestra. " never, in all probability, has so great an orchestra made so lamentable an exhibition of itself" wrote the "Observer" correspondent, not without praising the work itself in the highest tones.
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Elgar's pupil, has left only sketches for a planned cello concert for the legendary Pablo Casals. Only the slow movement is available in a fair copy, which however breaks off abruptly. In collaboration with the RVW Foundation, David Matthews has turned it into a playable piece, which he called "Dark Pastoral" because of its elegiac character. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under its principal conductor Thomas Dausgaard, perfectly strikes the tone of both works - audibly a stroke of luck for Dai Miyata and for British music.