Unaccompanied Bach has taken David Watkin all over Europe, from the Palace of Frederick the Great at Potsdam to the Prague Spring Festival. He played three of the Suites as part of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, sitting by the font in which Bach was baptised, in Eisenach, and featured in Gardiner’s TV programme Bach, a Passionate Life. He is a juror for the Leipzig Bach Competition.
David Watkin studied the cello with William Pleeth, whilst reading Music at Cambridge, where he was also a choral scholar. Since then he has been principal cello in some of the world’s leading ensembles including English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR), Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), the Philharmonia Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Solo recordings include music by Vivaldi, Haydn, Beethoven, and Francis Pott. He has been a soloist at Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York and performed the Schumann Concerto with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and ORR at Lincoln Center, New York. As a guest artist he has collaborated with, among others, Robert Levin, Fredericka von Stade and the Tokyo Quartet.
As a founder member of the Eroica Quartet he has performed all over Europe and the US, including at the Wigmore Hall; the Frick Collection, New York; and the Library of Congress, Washington. They have recorded to great acclaim the complete quartets of Mendelssohn and Schumann and a Beethoven disc (Harmonia Mundi USA), the world premiere recording of Mendelssohn’s Octet original version and quartets by Debussy and Ravel (Resonus Classics).
David Watkin has revived the eighteenth-century practice of realising figured bass (improvising chordal accompaniments) on the cello and used it in recordings of Corelli with Andrew Manze (Harmonia Mundi USA) and John Holloway (Novalis) and in Mozart operas with Sir Charles Mackerras and the SCO (DG) and OAE (Chandos). His writings about this and other aspects of music have been published by Early Music, The Strad and the Cambridge University Press volume Performing Beethoven.
Conducting is now an increasingly important part of his music making. He has conducted a wide range of repertoire with groups including the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Swedish Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He founded the Edinburgh International Cello Continuo Clinic and also teaches at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
‘He not only brings that dedicated scholarly view of playing characteristic of period instrument specialists, but he plays with such huge commitment‘
Sir Charles Mackerras, BBC Music Magazine
‘Hushed and flawless Bach’