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Classic Cellists at the BBC

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The BBC has an enviable archive and it’s amazing what performance gems they’ve retained, often more by chance than design. Here, host Julian Lloyd Webber has some 60 years’ worth to draw on, pulling up footage of the world’s greatest cellists in their prime.

Your heart will ache at the sight and sound of Jacqueline du Pré, aged 17 in 1962, playing Saint-Saëns accompanied by her mother; then six years later at the Albert Hall with Daniel Barenboim. There’s Paul Tortelier in 1955, Mstislav Rostropovich in the 60s, modern virtuosos Yo-Yo Ma, Steven Isserlis, Sol Gabetta and BBC Young Musician Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and Julian’s former tutor, the “aristocrat of cellists”, Pierre Fournier in 1965. All find their own distinctive “voice” as they make the cello sing.


Julian Lloyd Webber examines the BBC archives from the 1950s to the present to celebrate the world of the cello through some of its greatest interpreters. From dazzling performances by legendary masters such as Paul Tortelier, Jacqueline du Pre and Mstislav Rostropovich to some of today's leading interpreters including Yo Yo Ma, Steven Isserlis and Mischa Maisky, the presenter offers a cellist's perspective on an extraordinary virtuoso tradition.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Julian Lloyd Webber
Executive Producer Mark Cooper
Producer Helen Mansfield


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