Cellist who saved a BBC Prom with minutes to spare

Cellist who saved a BBC Prom with minutes to spare


norman lebrecht

August 26, 2016

At 0935 yesterday the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic were informed that their Proms soloist Truls Mork was sick.

At 1529 his replacement Alexey Stadler flew into Heathrow, little-known and 25 years old. At 1640 he was rehearsing on stage. At 1930 he made his Proms debut.

No announcement was made to the audience.

So how did he do?

Ariane Todes was there:

…This was an intelligent performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, with long lines and beautiful phrasing. If it was under-rehearsed, there was little evidence … Stadler holds his cello quite low, reminiscent of Rostropovich, but as yet he lacks the weight of sound and depth of vibrato of that master. There might have been a little more ugliness and anger in the characters of Shostakovich’s acerbic concerto, but no doubt that will come with age. Indeed, the Bach (the Sarabande from the Suite no.2) suited him better, beautifully conceived, simple and unmannered, but expressive and meaningful. It certainly made me want to hear more from him, and I’m sure we will.

Read the full review here. 

alexey stadler

photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht


  • Ross says:

    Is he Sergei Stadler’s kid?

    • M2N2K says:

      Believe it or not, but, according to wikipedia (which is, as we all know, never ever wrong), 25-year-old Alexey is Sergey’s brother. Given the age difference of 29 years between them, different mothers is certainly a strong possibility.

  • Peter Freeman says:

    With respect, the BBC publicity department informed me that announcements were made over the PA system, but I never heard them above the chatter, and nor did several people I asked. Perhaps in a similar situation in future, someone should be sent on stage with a microphone before the conductor appears to capture the crowd’s attention more effectively. Stadler was superb, even without taking into account the circumstances.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Normally, a press release is sent out. In this instance not.

      • Peter Freeman says:

        I guess short notice was a factor.

        • Anon. says:

          An announcement was put on the BBC proms Facebook page a few hours before the concert, not an official press release I grant but a notice nonetheless and before the prom there was an announcement over the tannoy after the no photos message announcing a change of soloist but like a previous comment it was hard to distinguish overy the noise from the crowd.

          • Una says:

            What use is FB when you’re in the Hall and perhaps reading your programme? I’m going to five Proms next week, and I won’t be there glued to a SmartPhone but there socialising with real people under my real nose, having a glass of wine!! 🙂

      • Una says:

        And only if you read the newspaper!

        I’ve seen bits of typed up paper plastered to walls in some places of the RAH when someone is being replaced, but they could at least have made an announcement to those in the audience and to what extent this young fellow at 25 had jumped in.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Firstly, we hope Truls is ok. For the sake of the performance, stories like this one makes a heart full and brings smiles. Bravo to Alexey! (By the way, as he is Sergey’s brother, I have often wondered about Sergey. We performed chamber music many moons ago–he’s an amazing violinist. Good luck to his younger bro!)

    • Pierre Boutry says:

      What did you play with Sergej ? Would love to know.

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        If memory serves, it was Milhaud’s ‘Cinema Fantasie’ and Grieg’s Sonata in G Major. I believe it was a Stavanger Chamber Music Festival, which was one of Truls Mork’s creations, worked by oboist Gregor Zubicky. That’s as far as my memory retained.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    The orchestra may have been informed at 9.35am, but in an interview with Alexei on the radio ( in the interval?) I am sure he said his phone rang at 6.30am while he was still in bed in Weimar (5.30 London time?) Did the airline let him take his cello in a passenger seat? Anyway, a miracle that he made it to the Albert Hall. A superb performance, but did the management have to take such a risk? Is there no one in GB capable of giving a good performance of Shostakovich 1 ?