Schiff, Heinrich

Heinrich Schiff (born 18 November 1951, in Gmunden, Austria) is an Austrian cellist and conductor. He studied cello with Tobias Kühne and André Navarra and made his solo debut in Vienna and London in 1971. He studied conducting with Hans Swarovsky,[clarification needed] and made his conducting debut in 1986. Schiff was Artistic Director of the Northern Sinfonia from 1990 to 1996, and recorded with them for the NMC label.[1] He also held chief conductorships with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra in Copenhagen, Denmark(1996–2000), and the Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur. In 2004, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and served in the post from 2005 to 2008. He stood down from the post in 2008 for health reasons.[2] Schiff plays the "Mara" Stradivarius (1711) and "Sleeping Beauty" made by Montagnana in Venice in 1739. His recording of the Bach Cello Suites won prizes, and his recording of the Shostakovich concertos won the Grand Prix du Disque. His recording of the Brahms Double Concerto with Frank Peter Zimmermann and Wolfgang Sawallisch won the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis. Composers who have written cello concertos for Schiff include John Casken and Friedrich Cerha. Among his students are Rudi Spring, Gautier Capuçon, Richard Harwood and Natalie Clein.

Northern Sinfonia

Northern Sinfonia

Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of The Sage Gateshead, holds an international reputation for the range and depth of its repertoire which spans 300 years and includes commissioned new work; its Music Director is Thomas Zehetmair.

The orchestra performs in its own spectacular Norman Foster-designed home for music, The Sage Gateshead, which celebrated its 5th birthday in  2009. Northern Sinfonia travels widely too with appearances at other leading venues and festivals throughout the world, including the Berlin Philharmonie, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Musikverein in Vienna, the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival and the Aldeburgh Festival. Northern Sinfonia’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2008/09 saw tours to the Far East including a residency at the Hong Kong Festival.

Northern Sinfonia works with many broadcasters including the BBC and Channel 4, and is proud to be Classic FM’s orchestra in the North East; working in partnership with the UK’s biggest commercial radio station, it presents exclusive broadcasts and live performances at The Sage Gateshead and for Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Casken's lyrical Cello Concerto is coupled with Maharal Dreaming, a vivid orchestral fantasy derived from his opera Golem; the glittering showpiece for strings, Darting the Skiff; and the theatrical and exuberant Vaganza, with its echoes of Petrushka.

These recordings were originally released on Collins Classics.


'Casken's acerbic musical architecture is ideal for this ensemble; an ensemble whose smoothness of sound in the Mahlerian figures of Darting the Skiff is balanced by their precise articulation of Vaganza and subdued sonority in Maharal Dreaming. With Schiff's cool, mellifluous account of the Cello Concerto at its centre, this Casken retrospective is a must for any new music devotee.'
The Independent on Sunday


The Ancora Series is supported by Arts Council England


Cello Concerto:

Recording date: August 1992
Recording venue: St Nicholas Hospital, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Engineer: Mark Edwards 
Producer: Andrew Keener

Darting the Skiff Maharal Dreaming / Vaganza:
Recording date: 3-6 September 1994
Recording venue: St Nicholas Hospital, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Engineer: Iestyn Rees
Producer: John West

Remastering: Marian Tryggvason

Cover image: Photo: Tom Bangbala

Cello Concerto (P) 1993 Lambourne Productions Ltd
Darting the Skiff Maharal Dreaming / Vaganza (P) 1995 Lambourne Productions Ltd

Schott Music
Catalogue number:
NMC D086
Release Date:
10 January 2003