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OFFENBACH // Six duets for cellos

Anne Gastinel, Xavier Phillips,

Another Offenbach. Jacques Offenbach (1819-80) wrote music for cello?  Who knew?

Yes, it’s sometimes forgotten that the future creator of La Vie parisienne and Orphée aux Enfers was a first-rate virtuoso on the instrument.


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Offenbach studied it in Germany with Joseph Alexander and Bernhard Breuer, before a brief stint in Olivier-Charles Vaslin’s class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1833-34. Nicknamed the ‘Liszt of the cello’ during his early Parisian years, Offenbach made a name for himself in the salons and played in the orchestras of several of the capital’s theatres, including the Opéra-Comique – an irreplaceable observation post!

His Cours méthodique de duos pour deux violoncelles (Methodical tutor of duos for two cellos) was published between 1839 and 1855, divided into six volumes (opp.49 to 54) of increasing difficulty, from letter A to letter F. These astonishing pieces show another side of Offenbach, often diabolically virtuosic, yet also intensely poetic.

Xavier Phillips and Anne Gastinel have selected six of them, from the letters C, E and F, for their very first recording together. A dazzling encounter!


Letter E, op.53 – Book 3 in C major


  • I. Duo 7’28
  • II. Andante 2’19
  • III. Rondo 3’41


Letter E, op.53 – Book 2 in A minor


  • I. Duo 3’27
  • II. Andante 1’19
  • III. Allegro 2’45


Letter E, op.53 – Book 1 in B flat major


  • I. Allegro 6’18
  • II. Adagio 3’21
  • III. Rondo 3’22


Letter F, op.54 – Book 2 in E major


  • I. Allegro 8’11
  • II. Andante 2’45
  • III. Polonaise 4’55


Letter C, op. 51 – Book 2 in H minor


  • I. Allegro non troppo 4’58
  • II. Cantabile 3’01
  • III. Allegretto 2’36


Letter D, op.52 – Book 3 in C major


  • I. Tempo di Marcia 2’58
  • II. Adagio 1’43
  • III. Mouvement de Valse 2’20
  • IV. Tempo di Marcia 2’08


Xavier Phillips


After winning several international prizes, Xavier Phillips had a decisive encounter with Mstislav Rostropovich that marked the beginning of a long collaboration, during which the young cellist perfected his skills with the master. He was quickly invited to perform in the leading international venues with such prestigious orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra Washington, the Mariinsky Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de Paris.

He has played under the direction of many eminent conductors, including his mentor Mstislav Rostropovich as well as Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, James Conlon, Marek Janowski, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Ion Marin, Jesús López Cobos, Vladimir Spivakov, Kurt Masur, Paavo Järvi, Jonathan Nott, Ludovic Morlot and Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

He also gives a key place to chamber music, which he likes to play with such artists as Shlomo Mintz, François-Frédéric Guy, Tedi Papavrami, Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, David Grimal, Emmanuel Strosser and Igor Tchetuev.

In addition to his activities as a soloist, he has been a Professor at the Haute École de Musique de Sion (Lausanne campus) since 2013.

Xavier Phillips plays a cello by Matteo Gofriller dating from 1710.


Anne Gastinel


Anne Gastinel won the first prize in cello at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon (CNSM) in 1986 and was admitted to the CNSM de Paris in the same year. Yo-Yo Ma, János Starker and Paul Tortelier, with whom she did postgraduate studies and who were deeply to influence her personal and musical development, already recognised in her the maturity of a unique artist. She won numerous prizes at major international competitions (Scheveningen, Prague, Rostropovich) and began to perform throughout Europe, before reaching a wide public at the 1990 Eurovision Competition. Acknowledged by its finest exponents as the ambassador of the cello, she was chosen in 1997 by Marta Casals Istomin to play for one year the mythical Matteo Goffriller that belonged to Pablo Casals.

In 2006 she received the Victoire de la Musique in the category ‘Soloist of the Year’ (after previously winning the ‘Young Talents’ and ‘Best Recording’ trophies).

She now travels the world’s finest concert halls alongside orchestras, musicians and composers, with whom she enjoys exchanging ideas.

In the chamber repertory, she shares concert platforms with Claire Désert, the Quatuor Hermès, Nicholas Angelich and Andreas Ottensamer, David Grimal and Philippe Cassard, Xavier Phillips and Les Violoncelles Français.

A Professor at the CNSMD de Lyon since 2003, Anne Gastinel plays a Testore cello of 1690.

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