When did you first meet Brett Dean?

Brett was my sister’s first viola teacher 30 years ago and a colleague of my father at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, so I’ve known him for quite some time – I’ve always admired his courage and conviction in leaving the orchestra to fulfil his destiny and be a full-time composer. About 15 years ago, he had written a beautiful work for cello and piano,  Huntington Eulogy, for Steven Osborne and myself. Inspired by that, I’ve lobbied for a cello concerto ever since.

Have you worked with other composers who have also been chamber music collaborators?

Only once and that was with Jörg Widmann, a wonderful clarinettist and composer, but he never wrote anything specifically for me. This collaboration with Brett goes deeper and is rather unique as I know Brett so well as a musician and as a person – I can feel his beautiful personality through his music.

Alban Gerhardt, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Brett Dean Alban Gerhardt. Photo © Kaupo Kikkas

Were you closely involved with the composition of the new cello concerto?

Not at all – I respect Brett far too much to dare to give him any ideas...