David Cohen (cello)

David Cohen has established a reputation as one of the most successful and charismatic young cellists of today. At the age of ten he made his solo debut with the Orchestre National de Belgique and since then has performed with many leading orchestras including the St Petersburg Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Suisse Romande Orchestra, Polish Philharmonic, Symphonia of Warsaw, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra (Ireland), Ankara Chamber Orchestra and Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey. He has worked as soloist with some of the world’s most distinguished musicians and conductors including Lord Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Christoph von Dohnányi, Walter Weller, Sir Charles Mackerras and Vladimir Ashkenazy. His debut in Japan performing Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy in 2008 led to an immediate re-invitation to play Dvořák Concerto.

Most recent concerto engagements include Dvořák Concerto with Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège and Haydn Concerto in C and Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the Casco Phil on tour in Belgium, Saint-Saens Concerto No 1 with the Orchestre National de Belgique and also with the Montenegrin Symphony Orchestra, Dobrinka Tabakova’s Concerto for cello and strings on tour with the Scottish Ensemble, Elgar Concerto and Shostakovich Concerto No 1 with the East Anglian Chamber Orchestra, and Dvořák Concerto with the Brussels Chamber Orchestra.

He has won more than 25 International prizes and awards, including first prize at the Audi International Competition in 1995 and the International Cello Competition in Douai. He has also received awards from the Ian Fleming Charitable Trust for “extremely talented musicians,” Fondation pour la Vocation (1999), Hattori Foundation for Young Musicians and the Fondation SPES (1999), the Martin Musical Scholarship Fund winner in both 2000 and 2001 and The Berlotti Buitoni Fellowship Award in 2004.

After graduating from the Yehudi Menuhin School, he continued his studies at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where for six years he was a student of Oleg Kogan. He won the prestigious Gold Medal and in 2002 he became the Royal Philharmonic Society of Belgium “Rising Star”, performing recitals in leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In March 2001 David Cohen was appointed Principal Cello of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London – the youngest Philharmonia Principal ever – a position which he held until summer 2009.

He is a passionate chamber musician performing regularly in major festivals with the finest musicians in Europe. He is regularly invited to international cello and chamber music festivals such as Kronberg, Manchester, Cambridge, Beauvais, Bordeaux, Gstaad and West Cork. In October 2011 he performed Beethoven Sonatas with the late Charles Rosen at Cadogan Hall. In May 2013 he gave a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall, which included a new work written for him by Ian Wilson, later giving the Irish premiere in Galway. In June 2013 he was the featured soloist in a concert at the Spitalfields Festival, which included a new work for cello and ensemble, Katharsis, written especially for him by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, which he has also recorded. In 2017 he curated a series of four concerts for Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music performing the world premiere of a new work for solo cello written by Gordon Crosse. He also commissioned Gursky Landscape for solo cello and string quartet from Gavin Higgins; the world premiere was given at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018.

He has recorded for Classic FM, Cypres-Records and the London Philharmonic Orchestra Label and broadcasts include the Lutoslawski Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia and Sofia Gubaidulina’s Seven Last Words for Cello, Bayan and Strings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded Lalo Cello Concerto with Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège

David Cohen plays on a magnificent Domenico Montagnana cello c.1735 thanks to the kindness and tremendous generosity of Patricia Morton and help from the Razumovsky Trust. He has been the featured artist at the Montagnana Cello Festival in Italy performing concerti and making his conducting debut.

In September 2022 David Cohen was appointed co-principal cello of the London Symphony Orchestra.


Artist Videos

Casals - Song of the Birds
Tchaikovsky -Rococo Variations
Dvorak - Cello Concerto
Frances-Hoad - Katharsis
Schumann - Cello Concerto

“Cohen plays as though his life depended on every note, and the whole evening from start to finish was an absolute masterpiece of eloquence. One had the impression he was giving every last drop of his soul to the audience. Not only is he a master of his instrument, but a generous story teller, all the while Cohen is bursting with brilliance and utterly bedazzling. A star in the making to watch.” Wigmore Hall Recital, Talk Classical, May 2013

“(Nigel) Kennedy engaged in an utterly spellbinding duet with principal cellist, David Cohen.” RPO/RFH, Boulezian, June 2012

“Charles Rosen was superbly partnered with David Cohen in the two Opus 102 cello sonatas, and apart from the weight and authority in their playing, there was a notable element of surprise and striving expectancy. Cohen played with a finely judged, romantic edge and conjured a ravishing sound from his beautiful and truly exceptional Montagnana instrument.” Classical Source 2011

“The lavishly talented David Cohen has been Principal Cello of the Philharmonia Orchestra since 2001 and has impressed in that role In tackling the Everest of cello concerts, Dvorak’s, Cohen scaled its heights impressively and ardently, and also with a poise and rhapsody, without imposing on the music. the concerto had been as well-prepared as the overture and symphony (meticulously); rarely has it been so apparent as to how the writing for woodwinds and horns complements the cellist and what a feast it is in itself. This was a wonderfully integrated performance (beautifully balanced, Dohnanyi occasionally visibly restraining the brass), one of teamwork and virtuoso solos…that revealed the work’s depth and scale as well as its craft, heart, nostalgia, stirring rhetoric and sadness.” Classical Source, 2009

“It was an uplifting first half but no doubt the star of the show was still to come as 28-year-old Belgian cellist David Cohen showed just why as an up and coming teenager he had impressed the mighty Rostropovich enough to be offered a place in the cello sextet the great man was organising to tour Germany with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Cohen, the youngest principal cello to be appointed by the Philharmonia Orchestra when he took up the position in 2002, played Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with his heart and it captivated the Dome faithful. BPO oboe supremo Alun Derbyshire and flautist Christine Messiter both did well to keep pace with his wonderful virtuoso playing and Cohen acknowledged the fact when he presented his bouquet to the excellent Messiter. That was a mighty act to follow but what better than Mozart to send the audience out into the damp night air with a spring in their step?” (Philharmonia/Brighton Dome) 2008

“… Witold Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto, written for Mstislav Rostropovich in 1970, has been taken up by surprisingly few colleagues. Perhaps the dedicatee was a hard act to follow, or perhaps it is just that Lutoslawski has gone out of fashion since he died in 1994, but as presented by the orchestra’s principal cellist David Cohen it won over and thrilled its listeners. While the composer used to play down the dramatic metaphors with which he once described it to Rostropovich, the music unfolds like a gripping narrative. The soloist plays for several minutes, until the trumpets launch an aggressive series of interruptions. Then he has to raise his game as the full orchestra picks a fight. In a final show of defiance, the orchestral music becomes deliberately grotesque, in a way that belies Lutoslawski’s usual delicate touch and sounds dated. But the cello’s role remains fresh and affecting. (Philharmonia/Queen Elizabeth Hall) Independent, March 2007

” Cohen gave a deeply moving, highly accomplished and wonderfully musical reading. Embracing the technicalities with masterful ease, he empathised totally with both conductor and accompanying musicians, conveying all the emotions of Elgar’s fine composition without resorting to any of the excessive physical histrionics we sometimes associate with concerto soloists….a truly unique musician.” (Worthing Symphony Orchestra) 2007

“A real musical sensation….expertly performed in a performance which had everything, life, feeling, accuracy and a real sense there here were two great musicians enjoying what they were doing.” Leicestershire Mercury 2006

“Cohen demonstrated considerable abilities as well as poetic and mature qualities…the audience was holding their breath for five long seconds after the last chord” Classical Source, 2005

Cohen’s musicality and his prizewinning virtuosity…” The Times, 2004

“From where i was sitting the cello part resounded sonorously throughout, subtlety of phrasing and finesses were apparent.” Rutland Times, 2003

“David Cohen gives a warm, rich and mellow in tone account of Lalo’s concerto, his playing demonstrates total commitment, combining vitality with expressive feeling in the most spontaneous manner.” The Strad, 2002

“David Cohen performs with striking style and a wonderfully expressive reading of Bach’s cello suites. His tone colour was warm and full yet never overdone, articulation was immaculately clean, phrasing was perfectly judged and his control of the lightning string crossing and running scales in the gigue was beyond reproach. Schubert’s arpeggione sonata had an irresistible lightness of touch, coloured with real passion in the more intense moments.” The Strad, 2001

Concert Repertoire

Barber Cello Concerto in A minor Op 22
Beethoven Triple Concerto in C Op 56
Bloch Schelomo
Brahms Double Concerto in A minor Op 102
Britten Cello Symphony Op 68
Bruch Kol Nidre
Dvorak Cello Concerto in A B 10
Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor Op 104
Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor Op 85
Frances-Hoad Katharsis
Gubaidulina Seven Words
Haydn Cello Concerto No 1 in C Hob VIIb:1
Haydn Cello Concerto No 2 in D Hob VIIb:2
Kabalevsky Cello Concerto No 1 in G minor Op 49
Kabalevsky Cello Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 77
Lalo Cello Concerto in D minor
Lutosławski Cello Concerto
Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante in E minor Op 125
Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No 1 in A minor Op 33
Schnittke Cello Concerto No 1
Schumann Cello Concerto in A minor Op 129
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 1 in E flat Op 107
Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 2 Op 126
Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations Op 33
Walton Cello Concerto
Katharsis Francis-Hoad
Champs Hill Records CHRCD119
Cello Concerto Lalo
Cypres CYP7608
Chamber Works Messiaen
Sigmun Records SIGCD126
Grave; Metamorphoses Lutoslawski
Forlane FF16822
Recital Disc Various