Gazette                                                                                                                                                 22 December, 1990

MY FIRST encounter with Paul Tortelier nearly 30 years ago had the most profound consequences on my life, writes Richard Markson [further to the obituary of Noël Goodwin and William Raynor, 20 December].  "It is a little late, but we shall manage," was his firm prediction after hearing me play and eliciting the information that I was 12 years old.


A dedicated musician and teacher who regarded the latter as inexorably appended to the former, Tortelier cherished his pupils at the Paris Conservatoire as his extended family.  The demanding concert schedule dictated by his world-wide recognition was manipulated and subjugated to the needs of his students.  "La Classe" served as the forum for musical and 'cellistic elucidation in which Tortelier unflaggingly compelled our total commitment.

With his indefatigable energy, it seemed perfectly natural for him to return from a performance late one night, as he did in Glasgow, and say: "...and now Richard, we shall work!"  Dinner was always a moveable feast, and on this occasion could only take place after a lesson in the use of continuous vibrato ended with a most moving performance of Bach's C minor Sarabande.

Although at times given to colourful and emotional outbursts, Tortelier was too great an artist to allow his music making to lapse into exaggeration and self-indulgence.  His remarkable synthesis of refined artistry and rhythmic energy characterised performances which like the man himself, pulsated with enthusiasm and vitality.

Perhaps uniquely amongst great 'cellists, he proclaimed the supremacy of Pablo Casals and humbly expressed his homage to him.  Of his own performances he was highly critical.  Whilst exuding exhilaration, he would generally confine himself to expressing moderate satisfaction with one small phrase from the entire evening.

Such was the case only last month when he spoke after his impassioned Schumann concerto at the Royal Festival Hall. "My little vanity...needs more critical acclaim than that of the general public," was his comment after embracing me for mentioning how exquisitely he expressed the four bar phrase linking the first two movements of the concerto.

He was a most inspirational mentor, who honoured those close to him with love and affection.

TV interview


TV interview of Richard Markson by Fabrizio Ferrari


Cello Music Editions

A collection of music scores edited by Richard Markson