Interview: Cellist Inbal Segev tackles a jazz concerto

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Photo: Cellist Inbal Segev
Cellist Inbal Segev

If you get to one of this weekend’s Boulder Chamber Orchestra concerts, you’ll notice something unusual: half the ensemble is missing. The strings step aside in deference to winds, brass and percussion.

The one notable string instrument will be front and center: a beautiful 1673 Rugeri cello in the hands of soloist Inbal Segev. She’ll play an unusual jazz concerto by Friedrich Gulda.

Inbal Segev plays Gulda’s jazz concerto at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road in Broomfield; and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St. in Boulder. The program also includes Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds and Mozart’s Serenade for Winds in C minor.

Gulda, an Austrian pianist, was famous for his Beethoven and Mozart interpretations but also loved jazz as both a performer and composer. Segev says Gulda’s concerto from the 1980s offers a “tasting menu” for the cello, encompassing everything from jazz to Renaissance-flavored tunes to virtuosic circus music.

Improvisation is key to jazz, and this concerto offers the same opportunity for the soloist. Segev strays from the printed page to only a minimal extent, admitting “I cheat and prepare at home.”

Gulda’s concerto shows that he doesn’t “take himself too seriously … and that he knows the instrument really well,” Segev said. Click the audio above to hear the full interview.

Segev will also to play Bach’s Cello Suites No. 1, 2 and 4 at 1 p.m. Sunday at Grace Lutheran Church in Boulder.