Elgar’s Cello Concerto is such a pillar of the instrument’s repertoire – do you remember when you were first introduced to the work?

For all the major works in the repertoire, the Dvořák and Elgar concertos, the Bach Solo Suites or the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas, it is almost impossible to identify a date of ‘discovery’ in the path of a young musician. However, I remember very well the moment I decided to study it seriously in order to attend a competition: I was 15 and I remember studying it for an entire summer by myself before having a lesson with my teacher. It was the first time I discovered, developed and tried to understand a major piece by myself.

Umberto Clerici Umberto Clerici. Photo © Laura Stanca

Elgar wrote the concerto towards the end of his life, and in the aftermath of the First World War – how did that effect his music in this work?

I am a firm believer [in recognising the importance of] the context in which the artists live. This work, in my opinion, is strongly influenced by the political situation in 1918, at the end of the most destructive war...