Britten: Suites for Solo Cello

Britten’s meeting with Mstislav Rostropovich in 1960 was a watershed, the great Russian cellist becoming the primary collaborator of his later years and inspiring a whole series of masterworks. Among them are these three suites for solo cello, written as a conscious homage to those of Bach (there were originally to have been six).

Britten scholar Paul Kildea, author of the lucid and perceptive booklet essay, sees the first as a coda to the War Requiem, the second as a snapshot of a lifetime of musical obsessions, and the third as both reaching back to much earlier works and suffused with Russian melody. The young virtuoso Philip Higham, one of the only British cellists in generations to have won top prizes at three major international competitions, brings both vigour and a deep intelligence to this remarkable music.

"This young Scot's ambition pays off: there's nowhere to hide in three solo suites, but why hide a technique as assured, a musical imagination so finely attuned to Britten's expression, or a Tecchler cello sound as burnished and wonderfully textured as this? His formidable mastery is lightly worn, and he exudes an invigorating sense of freedom, though not a single technical imperfection mars this recording (he was co-producer)"

"It is Higham's expansive but tender playing that pulls this music as far away from slapdash as it possible to be...despite his appreciation of their contextual importance, Higham still manages to revel in the glorious sound they invite the cello to make, playing around with its warmth of colours to bring out with glorious inevitability the Bach and Shostakovich hidden therein"

"Higham offers impressive interpretations here, grabbing attention right from the hypnotically mournful opening"

"Testing technically, exploratory in terms of timbre and fascinating in their juxtapositions of mood, the suites inspire terrific playing from Higham, lively and subtly coloured in a way that illuminates the music's exploration of the cello's expressive potential."

"A worthy centenary tribute from a fine young cellist…Listening to Higham playing these suites is like looking through a clear pane of glass at the music"

"A worthy new release for the composer’s centenary year."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 3-5 September 2012
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 23
Release date: 14 January 2013
Total playing time: 1:09:06
Album ID: DCD34125

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