Brinton Smith

Brinton Smith

About Brinton Smith

Hailed by Newsday for “extraordinary musicianship…forceful, sophisticated and entirely in the spirit of the music,” cellist Brinton Smith continues to win rave reviews for virtuosic performances with musical ideals rooted in the golden age of string playing. His debut recording of Miklós Rózsa’s Cello Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra won widespread international critical acclaim, with Gramophone praising Smith as a “hugely eloquent, impassioned soloist,” and his recording of chamber music of Fauré with Gil Shaham was chosen by numerous critics as one of the year’s best albums. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Cho-Liang Lin, Lynn Harrell, Sarah Chang, Dawn Upshaw and members of the Beaux Arts Trio and the Guarneri, Emerson, Juilliard, Cleveland, and Berg quartets. Mr. Smith is the principal cellist of the Houston Symphony and a faculty member of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He was previously a member of the New York Philharmonic and the principal cellist of the San Diego and Fort Worth symphonies. His performances have been broadcast throughout the world including, in the US, on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Performance Today and Symphonycast. At age 10, Mr. Smith was admitted part-time to Arizona State University, studying mathematics, music and German, and he completed a B.A. in mathematics at age 17. He received his masters and doctoral degrees from Juilliard, studying with renown cellist Zara Nelsova and writing on the playing of Emanuel Feuermann.

Castelnuovo-Tedesco Cello Concerto Revival — by Brinton Averil Smith

June 8, 2018 marked the Naxos release of a live recording of the first professional performance of Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's 'lost' cello concerto in over 80 years. Castelnuovo-Tedesco's career in his native Italy was cut short by Mussolini's rise, and he spent the latter half of his life in Hollywood, where he scored nearly 200 films, while continuing to compose classical works and teaching students including Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, André Previn, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams (André Previn tells the story of Mario forcing him to orchestrate Mozart's 40th symphony from memory, and then comparing his orchestration to the economy of Mozart's). Gregor Piatigorsky and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, August 1935 (source unknown) Mario relates that Piatigorsky asked “Castelnuovo, a great many cellists play your works as well [...]

Emanuel Feuermann and the Art of Phrasing — by Brinton Averil Smith

There has been a long-running debate in the string-playing world regarding the 'Golden Age' of string playing, generally considered to span the 1920s to the 1960s. While many today are happy to listen to and model their playing on more contemporary players, there has been a persistent argument made that the players of that era—Heifetz, Feuermann, Kreisler, Oistrach, Casals, and numerous others—played in a different way than more recent players. It is easy to dismiss this argument as the eternal 'nothing is as good as it used to be' meme and, when painted with too broad a brush, such generalizations quickly fall apart. The string players of that era were, after all, a group of vividly different players with different approaches—as are today's players. Yet when one begins to examine [...]

By |2018-12-19T17:55:07+00:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

LA Story: A Recital of New & Unusual Works for Cello & Piano from Hollywood’s Golden Age — by Brinton Averil Smith

Like many string players I grew up loving the Heifetz recording of the Korngold Violin Concerto, and a general obsession with Heifetz led to an interest in the composers he championed, in particular composers like Korngold, Rózsa, Castelnuovo-Tedesco and others who lived in Los Angeles during the mid-20th century. This inspired a project last April to revive the Castelnuovo-Tedesco cello concerto for its first performance since its 1930s debut performances with Piatigorsky and Toscanini. The recording of our 'reboot' will be released this June on Naxos, but reading and studying about Castelnuovo-Tedesco's relationships with the film studios, Heifetz, Piatigorsky, and the other musicians and composers living in LA gave me a new appreciation for the incredible depth of musical talent that existed in Los Angeles in the middle of the [...]

Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Forgotten Masterpiece — by Brinton Averil Smith

With over 200 film scores to his name, it's more likely that you've heard Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's music than his name. Castelnuovo-Tedesco was born in Florence in 1895 into a family that had been in Italy for generations, since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. His career as a composer began with conservatory study in Italy, and by the 1920s he was beginning to garner attention in greater Europe. In 1932 Mario began a lifelong friendship with the guitarist Andres Segovia, who inspired perhaps his most famous work, the Guitar Concerto No.1, and became an important champion of his music. It is largely due to Segovia's influence that Mario wrote over 100 works for the guitar, which today form an important and frequently heard part of that instrument's repertoire. [...]

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