He is one of the most celebrated artists of the younger generation and the successor to Gidon Kremer as director of the Lockenhaus Festival. Above all, he is one of the most creative and independent of musicians.
The real fireworks began with Haydn's First Cello Concerto, with German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt as soloist. One of Discovery Ensemble's strengths is its ability to play 18th-century music with true lightness and finesse, which they showed off throughout the concerto. Altstaedt was an inventive and creative partner; all the time he seemed to be listening keenly, whether he was playing or not. And he varied his tone and phrasing in fascinating ways, sometimes dropping down to a whisper in order to let the orchestra have its say. He also added a fascinating cadenza of his own to the first movement. His technical command was dazzling in the racing finale.
For an encore, Altstaedt and concertmaster Samantha Bennett played Sibelius's first composition, a duo for violin and cello pizzicato called "Water Droplets." He played standing up, leaning over to look at her music stand. It is difficult to imagine a more self-effacing encore."