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May 4, 2009

Baltimore Symphony principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn heading to Cincinnati Symphony

The Cincinnati Symphony has named Ilya Finkelshteyn as its next principal cellist, starting with the 2009-2010 season.

Since 2002, he has been principal cellist of the Baltimore Symphony, appointed by then-music director Yuri Temirkanov. Finkelshteyn had previously been a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

In a statement released by the Cincinnati Symphony, Finkelshteyn said he is "very excited to be joining" the orchestra. “It has a distinguished list of principal cellists and it is an honor to uphold this illustrious tradition," he said. Referring to a guest appearance with that ensemble in March, he added: "From the first moments of playing with Maestro Paavo Järvi and the members of CSO, it was apparent to me that Cincinnati is a place where artistry flourishes. I am looking forward to a long and fruitful collaboration." 

That March program included Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2. "The heart of this concerto is its songful slow movement, with its beautiful cello solo," wrote Cincinnati Enquirer critic Janelle Gelfand. "Guest cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, principal cello of the Baltimore Symphony, unveiled a radiant tone and the intimate collaboration with pianist and orchestra glowed."

The cellist's technical skill and superb musicality have made him one of the BSO's finest assets, and he has also been a frequent performer of chamber music in the Baltimore area. He has performed as soloist with several orchestras, including the BSO.

Finkelshteyn will be a tough act to follow.


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:17 AM | | Comments (2)


I have visited Cincinnati twice in the past 3 years to hear their orchestra play, and I can guarantee that Ilya is joining a _very_ distinguished ensemble. The CinciSO is one of this country's orchestral gems, with a very full sound across the sections (the strings are comparable to Philly or Cleveland, depending on the occasion!). Their music director, Paavo, is a rising titan (despite his recent OVI incident) in the conducting world: his style is _enormously_ clear and expressive without the least hint of silly showmanship. (His father, Neeme, is also one of my favourite conductors; I believe Paavo surpasses him.)

I am sad to see Ilya leave, because he is an outstanding cellist (if Temirkanov may cancel a lot, he can almost be forgiven by virtue alone of appointing Carney and Finkelshteyn to the BSO), but hopefully I'll see him again next January, when the Cincinnatians do Bruckner's 8th. ;^)

Thanks for the comments.TIM

Tim, is the CintiSO really a step up for Finkelsteyn? Great things are happening for the BSO with the enormous energy and creativity that Alsop is bring to Baltimore.
Finkelsteyn is a first rate cellist, to be sure. I'll always remember how he collapsed onstage during Temirkanov's farewell concert - DSCH's 10th - slowly sliding down to the floor soundlessly. It took awhile for the orchestra and the audience to realize what had happened. I'll also remember him for a pan by a WP reviewer whose comments were limited to how displeasing (to her) he looked and the fact that he played from the score. No mention whatsoever was made of his playing or of anything audible.
Tim, no mention of the latest BSO concert w/Venzago, Friere and that behemoth of a symphony, Bruckner's 3rd?

Thanks for the comments. I agree it's not a step up for Ilya, who tells me he wanted a change. And he officially has a leave of absence from the BSO for one year, so he could technically come back if he changed his mind in Ohio. The BSO Bruckner/Beethoven review was just posted. It was a wild weekend, and I'm still catching up.TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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