On February 14, 2020, Asier Polo performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Michael Sanderling. His performance at the Opera Palace in A Coruña received a warm reception by the audience and critics, whose impressions we collect below.
Asier Polo has been awarded the National Music Award, the highest recognition granted by the Spanish Government through the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
The jury has decided to grant the award to Asier Polo, “for his artistic excellence as a performer and for his long international career.” In addition to “his approach to the great repertoire”, the jury highlighted “his commitment to Spanish music and, especially, to contemporary music”. They also emphasized his “numerous musical recordings” and his “relevant teaching facet.”
I am delighted to receive the National Music Award for 2019. I would like to thank the jury and the Ministry for Culture and Sports of Spain for having considered my career deserving of this prize and I would also like to congratulate Félix Ibarrondo for his award in the composition category.
These situations make one reflect and inevitably look back. Music has always been a nexus for so many experiences during my life, but these experiences would not have been possible without the support of many people who have accompanied and impelled me on this journey of the emotions: conductors like Max Bragado, who made me step onto the stage without hesitation to play my first concert as a soloist with an orchestra; Alfredo Kraus, a great driving force behind me, who trusted me blindly and from whom I learned so much as a musician; Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who projected my career internationally; Juanjo Mena, who has always been close to me since we were students and still is; composers such as Antón García Abril, Luis de Pablo, Jesús Villa-Rojo or Carmelo Bernaola, who were the first to write cello concertos for me and who set a precedent for my collaboration with new generations; Marta Zabaleta, my most assiduous companion in the world of chamber music, who has always been enthusiastic and passionate about her profession; Humberto Orán, manager and friend who has accompanied me throughout my career, Rosa García and the entire Musiespaña team; Paloma O’Shea for her always selfless support; the JONDE, with whose members I shared so many unforgettable moments; Mikel Cañada and the rest of my family, for their unconditional support; and, last but not least, my audiences at my concerts, who with their energy have reinforced each one of my steps. I know that I have left many people out, but my thanks to each and every one of those who have accompanied me. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
I do not know if becoming a successful musician is a matter of personality, ability, talent or luck but, work, a lot of it, has always been at the forefront. Since I won the prize, at the age of 16, for Young Musicians in Spain when I realized the impact that the fact of stepping onto a stage had on me, my aim has always been to work hard in order to reach the standard required to go on stage. And, year after year, I have continued the search for new incentives and new objectives to keep that illusion intact and continue to grow as a musician and as a human being.
I have always tried to be as much of an all round musician as possible, which has brought me closer to teaching. Transmitting knowledge and learning from other generations is a tremendously enriching experience. I am very happy that institutions such as Musikene or the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana, where I teach today, have a commitment to their teachers continuing as active musicians and ensure that this happens. It ought to be a matter of pride for a conservatoire to have active musicians on their staff. And this compatibility should be the norm and not the exception. The conservatoire should be a place where the students can feel respect and admiration for the person who guides them, and where the musician can continue to grow both in and outside the classroom.
With regard to the above, in my life I have seen that music and the arts in general are a very powerful means of personal growth. They help us to know ourselves intimately, to express our emotions and to understand where we come from; they sensitize the human being, and that personal discovery can help to create a better, more developed, society. We cannot allow something so important to be suppressed or pushed into the background, far away from education or our day-to-day life. Music as well as all the arts should not be a mere extra, but a priority.
In gratitude for this award and with renewed enthusiasm, I shall continue with ever greater energy along my path of exploring and awakening emotions.
The Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana welcomes Asier Polo as its new Professor of Violoncello. The incorporation will be effective as of the next academic year 2019/2020.
The Swiss Conservatory, based in the city of Lugano, gathers more than 30 years of history of musical excellence and maintains a close relationship with the renowned Orchestra della Svizzera italiana.
In his last concerts in Seville, Spain, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Asier Polo has attended several media, including two interviews for television which are now available on YouTube (and also down below).
In both of them, Asier Polo had the opportunity to cover different topics, providing his most personal vision about music, emotion, his instrument, the stages, his day to day, the pedagogy or his present and future projects, among many others.
The Fundación Baluarte, public institution of Navarra, Spain, in charge of the programming of the Palace of Congress and Auditorium of Navarra ‘Baluarte’, as well as the Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra (Navarre Symphony Orchestra), recently named Asier Polo as its Artist in Residence for the 2018/2019 season.
Asier Polo will be the protagonist of five programs, which will be developed in seven concerts throughout this season in several formats: recitals, chamber music concerts and performances together with the Navarra Symphony Orchestra, resident orchestra of the city of Pamplona main concert hall and one of the leading orchestras in Spain.
For the occasion, the Fundación Baluarte has commissioned a composition by Fernando Velázquez, specially written for Asier Polo. Likewise, the cellist will also hold another world premiere during his residency, by the composer from Zaragoza Jesús Torres.
The National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico (OSN) captivated the audience with the last program of its First Season 2018, in a true musical fiesta full of emotions, under the baton of its Chief Conductor, Carlos Miguel Prieto, and with the Spanish cellist Asier Polo, as guest soloist, who offered an emotional and intense evening.
The recital began with a masterful interpretation by the soloist of ‘Kol Nidrei’, adagio on Hebrew liturgical melodies for cello and orchestra, op. 47, from the German composer Max Bruch.
Later, the violoncello virtuoso, who has collaborated with the main orchestras all over the world, made the main cultural venue in the country vibrate to the maximum when performing the ‘Adagio con variazioni’ for cello and orchestra by the Italian Ottorino Respighi, work of effective and transparent instrumentation in which the author exhibits his deep knowledge of the technique of the strings, which gave Asier Polo many opportunities to show off.
When finishing his two participations, the applause and ovation of the audience, moved by his solemn but emotional interpretation, made him return to the stage in several occasions. The musician, who is currently professor at the Musikene Basque Country Higher Music Center, presented as “encore” ‘Jacqueline’s tears’, by the Judeo-German composer and cellist Jacques Offenbach.
Read the full chronicle here.
Last January, Asier Polo performed three out of the six Bach’s Cello Suites within the ‘Touching the Stars’ cycle of the Unicaja Foundation in Málaga. La Opinión de Málaga highlighted “the virtuosity and the technical demand (…) in the reading made by the Spanish cellist. To this we must add the particular sensitivity that Polo prints in his interpretations, which make them so special”. The Spanish newspaper praised the “technical roundness” and “the aesthetics built by Asier Polo throughout the concert”, which made his performance “a recital of great value”.
Read the full review here.
“The Newport recital debut of Spanish cellist Asier Polo enticingly promised a chance to hear the Shostakovich Cello Sonata for the second time in as many weeks, as well as an opportunity to check out an artist who has made a significant name for himself in Europe but not that much in the US. We were rewarded on both counts.”
You can read the full review in the Boston Musical Intelligencer here.
Asier Polo received glowing reviews for his performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto which opened the 2017 Quincena Musical in San Sebastián, with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Juanjo Mena.
“The highlight of the evening was without doubt Asier Polo’s performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. One of the most famous works of the British repertoire, it’s also the work with which Polo made his professional debut as a soloist, when he was just 21. His profound knowledge of the score could be seen in so many details of his interpretation, and especially in the elegant manner with which Polo unified the contrasting passages of the concerto, that varied from lyrical passion to almost mystic intimacy.
It was a great performance that lasted right up to the encore, the “Preludio-Fantasia” by Cassadó, which he played with incredible beauty.”
(Mikel Chamizo, Gara)
You can read translations of all the reviews here.
Together with the magnificent pianist and regular recital partner Marta Zabaleta, Asier Polo has released a new album, which is a beautiful selection of romantic repertoire for cello and piano. Together, Asier and Marta perform four works that display technical and emotional virtuosity.
The two most substantial works on the disc are Sergei Rachmaninov’s Sonata Op. 19 in G minor and César Franck’s Sonata in A minor, and these are paired with Alexander Glazunov’s Chant du Menestrel and Maurice Ravel’s Vocalise-Etude. They are four outstanding works of great interest that demonstrate the richness of colours, ideas and sound worlds that opened the 20th century.
The CD, released on the Ibs Classical label, was recorded last October in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla, one of the most emblematic musical venues in Granada. The sleeve notes are by Blanca Calvo and include a detailed explanation of the pieces and of the artists’ interpretation, and this is illustrated with photographs by Pablo Axpe.
With an extensive discography of 14 CDs, Asier Polo returns with this new production, which is his second with Marta Zabaleta, and which promises to be a “journey to the bottom of the soul”. The CD is already on sale through the Ibs Classical website.
You can download a press kit, which features interviews with Asier Polo and favorable reviews of the disc in Spanish here.