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Lyrical Masterpieces Re-imagined for Cello

Courtesy of the Artist

With an international following for his pop music recordings as half of the duo 2CELLOS, cellist Hauser has just released his first solo classical album, and it’s our CD of the Week.

It might surprise you that a cellist known for his pop and rock music covers, who has toured with Elton John, and has a cult following online, has a deep passion for classical music.

But for 33-year-old Hauser, one half of 2CELLOS along with Luka Sulic, that's exactly the case.

Hauser has been playing cello ever since hearing it on the radio when he was 8. He was transfixed by the sound and wanted to begin lessons right away, so much that he even attempted to build his own cello. Later, he studied or worked with such cello luminaries as Heinrich Schiff, Bernard Greenhouse (one of the founding members of the Beaux Arts Trio), and Mstislav Rostropovich. In October 2006 he was the only cello student asked to perform at a Florence gala honoring Rostropovich. He has performed in over 40 countries, including twice in London for Prince Charles. He has won numerous awards, including 21 First Prizes in national and international cello competitions.

The new album features 16 pieces that he describes in a press release as "the most beautiful, the most romantic melodies ever written in classical music – by the greatest composers – played on the cello, the most beautiful and romantic instrument of all.”

The pieces he includes do follow a romantic theme whether originally intended as such, or just sonically geared that way. The Scene (Act II) from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Bach’s “Air on a G String” and Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot are not pieces written specifically for the cello, but Hauser worked with arranger Robin Smith and producer Nick Patrick to adapt these pieces for his instrument, and the result is truly romantic.

When talking about his album he sounds like a parent unable to pick a favorite child. Of the “Nocturne" from Borodin’s String Quartet, he says “it has real Russian soul, and it’s so dramatic.” Mozart shows up three times on the CD: with an excerpt from the Clarinet Concerto, the Andante from Piano Concerto No. 21, and the “Lacrimosa” from his Requiem, “one of the saddest melodies ever written, and one of the last he wrote. You don’t need a whole choir to sing it. The cello sound is so moving here.”

He has also included three crossover pieces on this CD – not strictly classical, but in his words, “they are becoming classics…what the world needs now – these melodies...with soul and heart.” Listen to "Caruso" (track 3), "River Flows in You" (track 9), and "The Lonely Shepherd" (track 11) - they are sure to stop you in your tracks.

In final thoughts about this album, Hauser says, “I feel like I’m on a mission because this world has gone crazy in so many ways. I hope I can touch and move as many people as possible.”

Watch a music video for one track from the album:

For more information, visit Sony Classical.

To sample tracks and to purchase this recording, visit Amazon Music.

Laura Carlo is the Morning Program Host for CRB.