The British Cello | Somm SOMMCD0175

The British Cello

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Label: Somm

Cat No: SOMMCD0175

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 29th September 2017



This is an arresting collection of music for cello and piano by British composers, ranging from such masterpieces as Britten’s seminal Cello Sonata (written for Rostropovich) to Joe Cutler’s brilliant new showpiece 2016 was a Sad Year for Pop Music, whilst taking in such superb recent works as James MacMillan’s Second Cello Sonata and the Sonata by Richard Rodney Bennett – written for Alexander Baillie and first performed by him – alongside shorter evocative pieces by Frank Bridge, Kenneth Leighton and EJ Moeran. The CD adds up to a terrific programme of familiar and lesser-known works by a galaxy of British composers, making it the first choice album of British Cello Music for music-lovers and students everywhere.

Richard Rodney Bennett wrote and dedicated his Sonata for Cello and Piano in 1991 to Alexander Baillie, who recalled: ‘The composer had not heard my playing and I suggested he might like to listen in to a broadcast of the Dutilleux Concerto with me as soloist. He told me how much he loved the music. He waited till I had made my first acquaintance with the Sonata and then asked me knowingly “Well?” He was assuming I had already noticed an exquisite phrase paying homage directly to a memorable moment in the Dutilleux. It is not a direct quote. It is more like one great composer tapping into the same elixir which has nourished another.’

Joe Cutler’s short piece for cello and piano 2016 was a Sad Year for Pop Music was also written for the artists on this CD and is a first recording. The composer explains: ‘This piece was written at the request of Sandy and John, and is dedicated to them. It’s less than five minutes long, and draws upon material from three great artists who very sadly passed away in 2016. David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. The songs of David Bowie and Prince were constant presences in the listening of my childhood, and I’ve always admired how lyrics and music entwine and coalesce in the songs of Leonard Cohen.

‘In this small homage, the quiet block-like chords that form the piece’s introduction are loosely taken from Prince’s 1999. Then, in the main body of the piece, the ‘verses’ use the chord sequence of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne whilst the harmonic material of the ‘choruses’ come from David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Throughout, the cello line floats over these harmonies with free-flowing melodic material.’

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