Hit play below to listen to our Arts Alive interview with cellist Sol Gabetta.

The LA Phil’s “Schumann Focus” continues this weekend with performances of Robert Schumann’s third and fourth symphonies alongside his Cello Concerto. Gustavo Dudamel conducts and the soloist is the Argentina-born cellist Sol Gabetta.

Gabetta says she didn’t choose the cello, the cello chose her.

“When you’re a child it depends on when you have the opportunity to try different instruments,” Gabetta tells me. Growing up in Argentina, Gabetta says she was fortunate. “I played clarinet, violin, and piano, and I was singing in a choir. So, I had many possibilities. I was also dancing, I was playing tennis, I did many, many different things.”

So, lack of opportunity was certainly not a problem for Gabetta. Neither was finding the instrument that would become her life, the cello. “It was clear from the beginning, because everything was so natural and so easy. I had a fantastic teacher from the beginning, which was the sense of my musical life. I think it’s very important for a child to find a person who you admire and who you want to be like him or her. In my case it was an incredible woman. She was like a queen with this instrument. Her sound was so warm and beautiful—I always wanted to have her sound. So, for me the cello chose me I think because I was so attached to this kind of sound. This was my destiny.”

This weekend, Gabetta is performing the Cello Concerto by Robert Schumann with the LA Phil. It’s her second time with the orchestra and first with music director Gustavo Dudamel. Schumann’s cello concerto was written in 1850—the same year as the Rhenish Symphony—and it is one of the first cello concertos by a major composer since Haydn 67 years earlier. Gabetta tells me Schumann straddles the line between the classicism of Haydn and the Romanticism of his day.

“It’s also a question of interpretation: how to interpret this kind of music. More as a classical concerto? Or more as a romantic concerto? Because, as you say, this is one of the first Romantic concertos, which is coming directly from classicism. So, for many years I was looking at this piece a little bit heavier, maybe in the style of Dvorak or Brahms. But, it’s impossible to look at this piece like that and I needed many years before I understood that.”

Sol Gabetta has recorded Schumann’s Cello Concerto for an upcoming album. She says she’s just trying to decide what else to put on the album. In fact, she told me her dream would be to record it twice—once with a heavier, more romantic interpretation; and once, in the lighter more classical style—and put them side-by-side on the album so listeners can compare. She doesn’t think the folks at her record label, Sony, will go for that, though.

Gabetta performs Schumann’s Cello Concerto with the LA Phil conducted by Gustavo Dudamel this weekend at Walt Disney Concert Hall, part of the LA Phil’s “Schumann Focus” to conclude the 2017-18 season. To learn more, visit laphil.com.

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