The cellist waited 40 years to record the most beloved concerto. Limelight visited his London home to see what kept him.
I’ve spent seven hours on a coach from Paris to London listening on repeat to Steven Isserlis’s forthcoming Dvořákalbum. So when I knock on the door of the cellist’s handsome terrace on Abbey Road – “Not the Beatles side of Abbey Road,” he says chirpily when I enquire – the B Minor Cello Concerto is ringing in my ears.
“You’re the first person I’ve spoken to who’s listened to it,”he says, astonished.“I heard the first and second edits but then you have to let it go. I didn’t know anybody had it. I haven’t got it… Is it all right, the cover?”
I assure him his distinctive silvered locks are springy as ever in the close- up photograph chosen for the Hyperion album art. We get to the album itself over tea, but while it’s brewing I’m led from the disordered clutter of the hallway across creaking floorboards to the lovingly ordered clutter of Isserlis’s study (“I could show you my music room. I do like my music room.”), where he proudly displays a shrine to his...