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Two days later, cello enthusiasts moved on to the great concert hall of Munich University for a concert with the other Julian, Julian Arp, who is also part of the Pergamenschikow group of six. The two Julians are the youngest of that group, both being in their early twenties, and Arp had been with Pergamenschikow for three years. 'I had played cello before,' Arp explains, 'and I had won many national competitions. By the time I came to Boris, just like Julian Steckel I had already been a recipient of the Ponto Scholarship that supports young musicians until their A levels. But I was merely a good cellist of national standard. It was only with Boris' help that I was elevated to international standard and now am able, despite my young age, to play at concerts all over the world. What I learned from him was, first of all, that beauty of tone is more important than loudness or concentrating simply on playing the notes. You have to really understand the piece and the composer's mind-frame when he created it, which allows you to dive into the work and become one with the music. This you then share with your audiences. So there was a new approach I learned when preparing a new work: first, Boris would discuss the composer, then provide us with literature and all sorts of references to the composer and his time. Then, once we understood where the composer was coming from, we went on to the next step: tackling the work. This was done like constructing a skyscraper, floor by floor. Meticulous work that required some seven hours of practice per day.'

Julian Arp. Photo © Alfred Frass
Julian Arp. Photo © Alfred Frass

The hard work paid off: like the other Pergamenschikow Julian, Arp has a defined touch of genius in his play. He came to Munich from Berlin to play a series of seven concerts, interrupted by a brief tour to Prague. The final concert of that series, on 18 October 2004 with the Munich Youth Orchestra under the baton of Raphael von Hönsbröch, had him showcase his in-depth understanding of the Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor (Op 33) by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921). The young virtuoso had audiences spellbound with his expert handling of the cello and his commanding stage presence. He plays like Pergamenschikow when it comes to the beautiful tone that his cello renders under his skilled hands and also the sheer unlimited colors, but on a personal level he displays the flashy showmanship of Misha Maisky. A very intriguing combination indeed, which is likely to send him straight to the top where most of the group of six seem to be headed at rather fast speed.

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Copyright © 21 October 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany

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