Alexander Buzlov
Alexander Buzlov

PETA STEWART

Coming to Cape Town may be a first for Alexander Buzlov, the cellist playing Lalo with the Cape Town Philharmonic on 21 June 2018, and trios for the Concert Series on Saturday 16 June 2018 with old friend and colleague Nikita Boriso-Glebsky (violin) and pianist Bryan Wallick, but coming to South Africa is not.

Tight schedule

Next month he is playing for the fourth time at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival.

He is alone this trip, having just returned from concert tours with his violinist wife Alissa Margulis (herself a soloist in the CPO’s Winter Symphony Season in August) and eight-month old baby Amalia.

“We are so fortunate to spend so much time performing together, and even more fortunate to have such strong support in Cologne, where we live for much of the year, from Alissa’s mother. In Moscow, where I also teach at the Conservatoire, my mother provides the same support. For the rest, we rely on nannies so that we can travel together as much as we can,” he says.

Buzlov was originally going to play the Walton Cello Concerto with the Johannesburg and Durban Orchestras as well as with the CPO, then he heard that the other two orchestras preferred the Lalo.

“With my tight schedule, I didn’t have the time to concentrate on two concertos so I was happy when the CPO agreed to the change.”

Maybe on another visit he will play the Walton!

He comes to Cape Town with ovations ringing in his ears – the concerts with the JPO received great audience reviews, (“the audience was amazing,” he says, “and I had a good time”) and after another well-received recital at the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch – “we really enjoyed that concert and look forward to repeating it on Saturday at the Baxter Concert Hall”.

He doesn’t have much time for much else – he has been “on the road for months so when I am an my own I read, watch movies and keep up with the news and friends. The cello is my life. I learn new pieces all the time and enjoy adjusting to new countries. “

When asked about the high points of his musical life he is hard pressed to name them because there have been so many …  there are the gold and silver medals and audience prizes at the world’s most important cello competitions such as the ARD Competition Munich, Concours de Genève and the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. There have been appearances in some of the legendary concert halls from the Philharmonie in Berlin to Carnegie Hall and La Scala.

Then there is Gergiev, who invited him to perform with him in 2008 with the Mariinsky Orchestra and subsequently most years; or the years he spent studying at the Moscow Conservatoire with Natalia Gutman (“my musical mother”), or the Cologne Hochschule with Frans Helmerson. Then he met Rostropovich.  And there are those with whom he has collaborated … Yuri Bashmet, Vadim Repin, Martha Argerich and Dmitry Sitkovetsky.

There are two opportunities to hear what the New York Times has called  “A cellist of true Russian tradition, possessing a great gift to make an instrument sing, bewitching the audience with his sound”.

Who: Cellist Alexander Buzlov, CPO, violinist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, Bryan Wallick (piano) (Concert Series only)
What: CPO Symphony Concert, Cape Town Concert Series recital
Where: Artscape Opera House, Baxter Concert Hall South Africa
When: 21 June at 8pm, 16 June 2018 at 3pm
Info, book tickets: www.cpo.org.za/ Artscape Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695,
http://bit.ly/buzlov, www.ctconcerts.co.za/ 084 683 1337, www.webtickets.co.za
WS