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Cellist Nicholas Altstaedt joins BPO in romantic Elgar concerto

Cellist Nicholas Altstaedt’s last name means “old city.” And he lives up to it, born in 1982 in the ancient university town of Heidelberg, Germany. He plays on cellos old and new – a Giulio Cesare Gigli instrument from Rome that dates to the 1760s, and a 2012 cello by Robert König. At home with old and new music, he has played with such varied and celebrated pianists as Leif Ove Andsnes, Gidon Kremer and controversial Turkish artist Fazil Say. Say dedicated his cello concerto to Altstaedt.

When he joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Altstaedt will be playing the music of a 20th century master with Romantic sensibilities. The cello concerto of Sir Edward Elgar has soaring melodies that make it one of the most popular cello concertos of all time. The last time the BPO performed it was in 2010, when the soloist was Lynn Harrell. That is a tough act to follow – but the challenge is part of the thrill, and Altstaedt has what it takes.

Rounding out the concert is Czech music. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will be conducting two pieces by Vitezslav Novak (1870-1949), “Eternal Longing” and the Overture to “Lady Godiva.” The concert closes with the soaring “The Moldau,” from Bedrich Smetana’s “Má vlast” (“My homeland”).

The concerts are at 10:30 a.m. March 4 and 8 p.m. March 5 in Kleinhans Music Hall. Tickets are $34.50-$86.50. Call 885-5000.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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