Music and Vision homepage



Dangerous celli at large

An evening with the Cello Mafia, by TESS CREBBIN


Living in Germany these days, one might be excused the thought that the nation has gone cello-mad. On any given day, one can see celli waiting for their owners in restaurants, travelling on trains or hanging out in subway stations, and advertising anything from war aid organisations (poster: a bombed out city, in the midst a lone cellist playing his instrument) to restaurants and train tickets. What is it about Germany and celli?

Where your cello can lodge in style ... an official ad for the 5 star Palace Hotel in Munich. Photo © Nicolas Bruant
Where your cello can lodge in style ... an official ad for the 5 star Palace Hotel in Munich. Photo © Nicolas Bruant

True, they have one of the best cellists in the world teaching here, the world capital of the cello is in Kronberg, and the successful group Twelve Cellists stems from here as well. But the crown of all things must be the 'Cello Mafia' of Tobias Melle. For the unaware, Melle is the guy behind the successful Symphony in Pictures DVD series on BMG classics and he has been featured at several summer music festivals this year. So when the infamous Cello Mafia decided to cheer up Munich audiences with a couple of new shows, one was presented with a new side of Tobias Melle, dressed up in Mafia gear and holding a wicked Mafia cello. It turns out that the notorious Cello Mafia is the brainchild of Melle who, although primarily known for his setting to images of symphonic works, is a great cello nut. In fact, he was with the Munich Youth Orchestra as a cellist for many years and now he is doing well with the Cello Mafia: his shows are all sold out a long time in advance and he gets enthusiastic reviews in the best publications, deservedly so. The cello show that Melle brings to the stage is guaranteed to have people killing themselves with laughter and to increase the already large group of cello-fans in Germany. Here's the story: a fine cello by the name of Black Beauty has disappeared and the cello mafia is called in to the rescue. The big question is: has the cello been kidnapped, perhaps by someone who has a firm dislike for celli? The Cello Mafia is going to find out. First they introduce themselves, with names like Giulia Tagliatella or Enzo Gnocchi, with dark sunglasses and tough celli, as the gang most likely to succeed in coming to the rescue of the hapless string instrument. Meanwhile, the owner of Black Beauty laments his cello's loss by singing a hilarious 'O Cello Mio' and then grumblingly playing a violin cello-style in a four celli, one violin adaptation of a five-celli piece.

Continue >>

Copyright © 27 November 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


 << M&V home       Ensemble home        Jan Garbarek >>