Matthew Sharp with the NCO at Stockport Town Hall

Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 1

Beethoven Symphony No 7



We are delighted to say that for this project, we are joined by one of the great musical communicators of our time, the wonderful Matthew Sharp, who the Times have described as ‘an extraordinary cellist-charismatic, virtuosic, brimming with verve and poetry’.

This is the NCO’s first appearance in Stockport Town Hall, and is the culmination of a four-day project involving hundreds of local primary school children and young musicians from Stockport School. We are very excited to be working with Matthew, who as well as being the soloist in the Shostakovich, will also have taken the workshops and directed the schools’ concerts that lead to this public performance in a unique linking of education and concert work.

Shostakovich’s mighty 1st cello concerto, often interpreted as depicting the struggle of the human spirit against an overwhelming force, in which an autobiographical element is implied in the memorable opening figure, was written for Rostropovich in 1959, who somewhat improbably, committed the the entire piece to memory in four days. The music veers from driving rhythmic passages to expressive, sometimes painful laments before a frenzied finale brings us to what is surely the most exciting end to any cello concerto.

The second half of the concert features a single work, the dramatic, ebullient and ultimately triumphant 7th symphony of Beethoven. What marks this piece out as a genuine masterpiece is how it is as popular with audiences as with musicians. If is is sometimes thought that classical musicians are a reserved lot,  this symphony shows them to be what they really are as they spend much of the symphony trying to contain their excitement, before finally letting go with the rumbustious end of the last movement.