Usually it takes many years for an artist to build up a reputation that will allow him or her to take liberties in where and what they perform, and even then, there are few who are willing to perform as many diverse works in one season as cellist Pieter Wispelwey does.
Wispelwey's first encounters with music were through his violinist father and his father's amateur string quartet. Wispelwey studied in Amsterdam with Dicky Boeke and Anner Bylsma, and then in the U.S. with Paul Katz and in England with William Pleeth. Boeke encouraged him to listen to as many things as possible, and growing up during the height of the period performance movement in Amsterdam in the 1960s and 1970s also gave him ample opportunity to learn a variety of styles. In fact, because of his ability to play the Baroque cello, the piccolo cello, and the modern cello, and because his first recording was of the Bach Cello Suites on period instruments, he was labeled a Baroque cellist. However, since then he has shattered that image through his concerts and recordings. Wispelwey is well-versed in the primary repertoire, able to play a couple of different concertos and different recital programs all in one week. He has performed at the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, Teatro Colon, the Sydney Opera House, and Walt Disney Hall. He has worked with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Camerata Academica Salzburg, and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, among other orchestras. He toured and recorded with the Australian Chamber Orchestra without a conductor. His chamber music partners include pianists Dejan Lazic and Paolo Giacometti and the Emerson String Quartet. Channel Classics has allowed Wispelwey great freedom, not only in choosing a recording repertoire that includes mainstream works (Beethoven's sonatas), lesser known works (Lutoslawski's concerto, Crumb's sonata), and transcriptions (Chopin waltzes and mazurkas), but also in the production process from editing to liner notes. This allows him to control what he wants to communicate, because what is important to him is communicating the original ideas and sounds the composer intended to the listener. Wispelwey sometimes views concerto performances as "combat" between the soloist and orchestra or soloist and conductor, but for the most part believes that a performance is all about communication between musicians and between musicians and the audience.