Benjamin Britten must have had a joyful time composing his Three Suites For Solo Cello.All three were dedicated to and premiered by the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Cello Suite No 2, Op 80, dating from 1967, was performed with verve and virtuosity by Philip Higham at the sixth concert of the Lewes Chamber Music Festival.
Each of its five movements explores a wide range of emotional outpouring whilst demonstrating the varied colours and technical possibilities the cello offers. There are echoes of Bach and Shostakovich, as well as the haunting harmonies of Britten’s unique voice.
Higham was assured and musically committed throughout, alternately caressing and attacking the instrument to spectacular effect.
Haydn’s Opus 9, No 2 Quartet is an early work, perhaps suffering from an overly long and ponderous opening movement. It relies heavily on the first violinist to carry much of the burden while the other players mostly accompany the fiendishly difficult solos.
Tim Crawford, on a scholarship at the Guildhall, showed extraordinary control, and promises to be a confidently expressive leader in the future.
First published Monday 15 June 2015 in The Critic