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Aldo Parisot, the Cellist: The Importance of The Circle.

Aldo Parisot, the Cellist: The Importance of The Circle. By Susan Hawkshaw. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2018. (Lives in music, no. 15.) [186 p. ISBN 978-1-57647-309-2. $48]

Aldo Parisot is described by Janos Starker as "the best cello teacher of his time," as well as one of the top performers on the violoncello of the twentieth century. This Brazilian-born cellist worked with various famous musicians including Heitor Villa-Lobos, Claude Monteux, Zubin Metha, Yo-Yo Ma, Dave Brubeck, and more. He is famous for his work with the Yale Cellos, including conducting them performing the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1 for cello ensemble and No. 5 for cello ensemble and soprano, recording with these works by Villa-Lobos the transcribed works of Bach that Parisot arranged for cello choir. He was recorded performing many works for cello. Villa-Lobos dedicated his Second Cello Concerto to him, and he worked closely with Villa-Lobos while it was being composed, which was among the many works he premiered by various composers.

Chapter 1 begins with his life in Brazil, where he started playing at the age of seven and later made his professional debut at the age of twelve playing the Haydn D Major Cello Concerto. He began his studies with his stepfather, working only on solfege with him for two years before starting on the cello. He became known playing concerts around Brazil. In his twenties, an American, Carleton Sprague Smith, helped him meet Yehudi Menuhin, and then later arranged for him to go to the United States to study at the Curtis Institute.

Chapter 2 looks at "Establishing Himself in the United States: Yale, Hindemith, and the Koussevitzky Prize: A Big Hug from Koussevitzky". While he came to the United States to study with Emanuel Feuermann, four months before he arrived, Feuermann passed away. He instead studied in the United States at Yale University, but was still greatly influenced by the cellist Emanuel Feuermann. He first performed in the United States with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood at the age of twenty-six, where he won the Koussevitzky Prize and an appearance with the Springfield Symphony. This chapter explores the first time he met Paul Hindemith and explores the beginning of their admiration for each other.

Next in his life, Chapter 3 is "Realizing a Dream: An International Solo Career". This is a period in his life where he toured as a soloist and played with various orchestras and conductors as he premiered various works, establishing himself as an exceptional performer. This period included his first of ten engagements with the New York Philharmonic starting in 1951. There are also accounts of exchanges he had with Leopold Stokowski, later concerts with Bern stein, and then with Zubin Meta. There is an extensive section on the premiere of the Villa-Lobos concerto, and finally a focus on his friendship with Janos Starker, another famous cellist and teacher.

The next chapter is unnumbered and is titled "Entr'acte". This focuses on "Parisot as Painter: The Importance of the Circle". For him, the music and visual arts are connected, and one of these connections is expressed in the circle. In the 1940s, he was encouraged by various artists to pursue his second love, which was painting, and over time he had produced more than 3,000 works of art. These have been displayed at galleries, and many of his paintings hang in various locations, including the Yale School of Music. Photographic examples of his works are included in this chapter.

The next is Chapter 4, which is titled "Extraordinary Performances: The Parisonatina and Others; The Alaska Trip: A Beaver Coat for the Cello". This chapter starts with a trip to Alaska; Parisot wrote about his experiences for a piece in the Reader's Digest and in general the trip was covered by the media, giving him lots of publicity from this trip. Later the chapter looks at many of the special performances he gave, including a performance of the Hindemith Cello Concerto with the composer conducting the New York Philharmonic. This section includes an anecdote about a disagreement he had with Hindemith over the tempo of the work, which shows Parisot's fiery temper where he stomped his foot on the conductor's podium during a performance, while at the same time Parisot gave testimony that he had the greatest respect for Hindemith. There is information about concert tours in Europe, various anecdotes about works he performed, and his collaborations and friendship with Benny Goodman. Included, too, is Parisot meeting his wife, Elizabeth, who was a pianist, and also became his accompanist. At the end of the chapter is a short biography of her life.

Chapter 5 focuses on "Extraordinary Performances: The Most Difficult Cello Concerto; Continuing to Champion Contemporary Music". Parisot sought out challenging works and difficult pieces, and composers sought him out to play their works or dedicated works to him. This included composers like James Drew, Joan Panette, Alvin Etler, and Yehudi Wyner. A focus of the chapter is the extraordinarily difficult Schoenberg / Monn Concerto, which is an adaptation by Schoenberg of a harpsichord work by Georg Matthias Monn (1717-1750), that Parisot performed at the Kennedy Center with Otto-Werner Meuller conducting. Also included is a trip where Parisot returned to Brazil after thirty years away on the occasion of an event to honor Villa-Lobos in 1976.

The following unnumbered section has a focus on a Polish tour, and then in Chapter 6, there is a look at his work in festivals in Brazil. Next, Chapter 7 features his work with "The Yale Cellos", which is one of the highlights of his career at Yale. The group has performed around the world and recorded numerous works, one of which won a Grammy, with Parisot conducting the group. This chapter looks at the history of this group and its numerous performing collaborations, along with working with various composers who created works especially for it. In 1995, Yo-Yo Ma came for a special concert to benefit the Yale Cello Scholarship Fund, which sparked a special bond between Yo-Yo Ma and Parisot. Dave Brubeck, who was a friend and neighbour of Parisot, also composed works performed by the Yale Cellos.

Before moving to Chapter 8, "Parisot a Master Teacher", there is a detour reviewing "Parisot's Teaching at the Shanghai Conservatory", which he did in 1984 and again in 1987. Over the years he taught at various institutions, including the Peabody Conservatory, the Mannes College of Music, the Julliard School, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Yale University, where he has taught since 1958. His master classes have been part of his life since the 1980s, and have been at institutions around the world, including the Banff Centre in Canada, Yale Summer School in Norfolk, Chung-Ang University in South Korea, and the Manchester International Cello Festival. He sat on the juries for many competitions around the world. One of the highlights of his teaching career was a concert in honor of his fifty years at Yale in 2009.

Next there are appendices, including the following:

* Composer descriptions of works dedicated to Parisot.

* Additional festivals, competitions, and conservatories.

* Interviews by the author with colleagues (nine former students). Each of these cellists is outstanding and prominent in the field.

* Parisot's "Keynote address" at commencement at the Harid Conservatory, May 1994.

* Aldo Parisot, Awards and Honors.

The author, Susan Hawkshaw, did extensive interviews and research with Aldo Parisot, his students and colleagues in order to put together this book, which chronicles the life and highlights of the career of Mr. Parisot. Throughout the book she draws upon the interviews and conversations she had with him in order to keep an accurate account of the various parts of this life.

The style is factual, straightforward and utilises the various conversations and interviews to tell the story of this musician. There is a selected bibliography and discography included at the end.

There are photographs of Mr. Parisot with various musicians, including Leonard Bernstein, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paul Hindemith, Janos Starker, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Dave Brubeck, and others, and there are photographs of his programs, including one with the Berlin Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic.

This book is part of the "Lives in music" series by Pendragon and is the fifteenth in the series. It fills a gap in the literature, as the only published book dedicated to the life of this extraordinary cellist.

Joseph Hafner

McGill University
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Author:Hafner, Joseph
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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