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Aldo Parisot began cello lessons with his stepfather, Tomazzo Babini, who taught him a technique free from physical tension to which Parisot attributes his long performing career. He made his début with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at the age of twelve and was later heard by Carleton Sprague Smith (American attaché to the Brazilian Embassy) who invited him to a party in honour of Yehudi Menuhin. This led to the opportunity of studying with Feuermann at the Curtis Institute, but Feuermann died before Parisot was able to take up the place. He studied instead at Yale University (but did not have cello lessons there), which helped him launch his US career, and soon made a tour of Europe to great acclaim. In the 1950s he gave significant premières of works by American and Latin-American composers Villa-Lobos, Guarnieri, Siqueira, Porter and Martino. Further high-profile performances across the world included concerts with many distinguished conductors. Such was his success with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra that he was re-engaged some seventeen times.

Also an accomplished and acclaimed painter of abstract art works, Parisot has had an illustrious career as a teacher at various US institutions as well as the Manchester Cello Festival, UK, and the Helsinki Sibelius Academy. He is also a regular competition juror. His cello ensemble Yale Cellos, comprising twenty of his own students, has become highly regarded worldwide and received a Gramophone nomination for one of its several recordings.

Parisot’s 1958 Boccherini and Vivaldi concertos (the Vivaldi being an arrangement of the Sonata, Op. 14 No. 5 RV40) show how much performance of this repertory has changed. It has now become virtually unthinkable to perform (except perhaps as a carefully explained curiosity) such arrangements of works when we have the urtext available. Parisot here demonstrates unmodified mainstream playing typical of the time, with a relatively fast, continuous vibrato and mainly legato phrase conceptions, stressing larger-scale shapes and a Romantic understanding of underlying harmonies. There is something rather moving about these performances: a tremendous intensity, for example, in the slow movement of the Vivaldi, counterpoised with frivolity in the finale (an impression furthered by Dallapicolla’s orchestration). Such features contrast sharply with today’s often rather zealous and serious historicism.

From 1963 comes Villa-Lobos’s Cello Concerto No. 2, dedicated to Parisot. Villa-Lobos took great pains to understand Parisot’s playing and there were some detailed discussions of performing practices between the two cellists. Thus Parisot’s performance, with a tight sound, continuous but discreet vibrato and use of portamenti or glissandi, epitomises the Villa-Lobos sound world. The Chôro by another Brazilian composer, Camargo Guarnieri, was first performed by Parisot shortly before this 1963 recording; the work is, like the Villa-Lobos, a colourful illustration of melodic invention with a serious artistic bearing, in which the first-movement cadenza displays Parisot’s somewhat reserved but fluent virtuosity.

© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)

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