NATALIA GUTMAN is one of the world’s most esteemed musicians, often referred to by audiences and critics alike as the “Queen of the Cello”.
Her prestige is reflected in the many distinguished awards she holds: National Artist of the USSR (1991), the State Prize of Russian Federation (2000), “Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse” of the Federal Republic of Germany (2005), the Shostakovich Prize (2002 and 2013), the Triumph Award (2002), Fellow of the Royal College of Music London (2010), Musikpreis des Verbandes der Deutschen Konzertdirektionen (2012), Premio NEM in Florence(2014).
After graduating from Galina Kozolupova’s class at the Moscow Conservatoire, Gutman continued her postgraduate studies with Mstislav Rostropovich at the Leningrad Conservatoire. Already before completing the course in June 1968, Rostropovich had invited her to join the pedagogical staff at the Moscow Conservatoire.
From 1959 she participated in various international competitions, winning that year the Gold medal at the Vienna Youth Festival, then First Prize at the International Dvorak Competition in Prague in 1961 and 3rd prize at Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962. In 1967 together with her Duo partner, the pianist Alexei Nasedkin, Gutman was awarded First Prize at the Munich ARD Competition.
1969 she made her brilliant American debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall, playing Bloch’s Schelomo and Prokofiev’s Concertino under Maestro Leopold Stokowksi. On her return to Moscow, the Russian authorities imposed a ban on Gutman’s travel abroad, and she was unable to pursue her international career for 10 years. In Russia nevertheless Gutman’s solo career flourished, and she performed and recorded with the most renowned Soviet conductors such as Kondrashin, Svetlanov, Rozhdestvensky and Temirkanov.
As an enthusiast of chamber music she formed an important musical relationship with the exceptional violinist Oleg Kagan, who became her husband. Together they formed a Trio with Svyatoslav Richter, who also frequently acted as Natalia’s Duo partner. The group was extended to a Piano Quartet whith Yuri Bashmet and Piano Quintet with Viktor Tretiakov. Together they explored the whole chamber music repertoire. Gutman and Kagan’s remarkable interpretation of Brahms double concerto, as well as much of the classical repertoire were highly acclaimed. They also commissioned many composers as Sofiya Gubaidulina, Edison Denisov, Vasily Lobanov and Tigran Mansuryan to write for them. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Alfred Schnittke dedicated a series of works to Gutman and Kagan, including the First Cello Sonata, the Concerto Grosso no 2 for violin and cello (1981), and the first cello Concerto (1984/5).
Finally in December 1978 Gutman was granted permission to travel again outside the Soviet Union, and to resume her international career. Since she playing at the most prestigious halls throughout Europe under such great conductors as Serge Celibidache, Yuri Aronovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, Kurt Mazur, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Muti, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Gustavo Dudamel. The special musical relationship she built up with Claudio Abbado since the early 1980s has resulted in many performances with him, with such orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the European Comunity Youth Orchestra, the Gustav Mahler orchestra, and the Mozart Orchestra. From 1992 – 2002 together with Abbado Gutman directed the “Berliner Begegnungen” chamber series in Berlin.
Over the years Gutman has made innumerable recordings of both Concerts of Shostakovich with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov (RCA Victor), Dvorak Concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch (EMI), Schnittke Concert No.1 and Schumann Concert with London Philharmonic Orchestra under Kurt Masur and in 2007 another version of Schumann Concert with Claudio Abbado and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Together with Maria Michel-Bayerle she initiated the Live Classics Recording Company in order to publish the many live concert recordings made with Sviatoslav Richter, Oleg Kagan, Eliso Virsaladze, Yuri Bashmet, Vasily Lobanov, Eduard Brunner and many others.
Currently Gutman holds Professorships at the Moscow Conservatoire, at the Private University of Vienna, and the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole (in Italy). Her time is largely divided between giving performances throughout Europe, the Far East, South America and the USA as soloist with orchestras, with Bach’s Suites, duo recitals and chamber music with her Piano Trio(Sviatoslav Moroz, violin and Dmitry Vinnik, piano). She is also much in demand world-wide as a distinguished teacher of master classes.
Elisabeth Wilson (c)