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Length: c. 12 minutes

About this Piece

In 1972, the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic performed a radio broadcast of Hymnus, a work from the 1920s by cellist and composer Julius Klengel. That broadcast was the impetus behind the establishment of an ensemble that remains popular today, having produced several recordings and having often been featured on Berlin Philharmonic broadcasts. Many feel the cello is the most human-sounding of all the instruments, but its range far exceeds that of the human voice. With more than four octaves at the player’s disposal, cellos are ideally suited to forming a unified “choir,” with soprano, alto, tenor, and bass represented.  

French cellist Blaise Déjardin joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and was elevated to principal position by BSO Music Director and Conductor Andris Nelsons in 2018. Déjardin’s arrangement of the William Tell Overture by Rossini, with its famous cello opening, proves that almost anything is possible in the cello world. Déjardin writes: “Most cellists know this piece for the very start which includes solo parts from the cello section. But how about going that way till the end of the piece?” He mentions, almost as an afterthought, that the topmost parts of the arrangement are “not for the faint of heart.” No kidding.