Archive for July, 2011

The Peasant Girl CD released

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Our new CD – The Peasant Girl: Viktoria Mullova and the Matthew Barley Ensemble – has been released on Onyx Classics, and is already getting some reviews: “A soulful collaboration…The MJQ classic, Django, has never sounded quite so elegaic, and any doubts the band can swing are laid to rest in the exuberant opener, For Nedim. The band’s Prom [18th August] will be essential listening.” The Sunday Times

Have a look at this Peasant Girl on YouTube

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All night long in Latvia

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

It’s 9am on Sunday morning, and I’ve just had breakfast with lovely people who came to last night’s all night concert. I played from 11pm to 7am which left me elated and exhausted.. I had a huge collection of music: 2 Bach Suites, a Britten Suite, bits of rep by Gavin Bryars, Casals, Gabrielli, and lots of stuff for cello and electronics by John Metcalfe, Nitin Sawhney, Duncan Bridgeman, DJ Bee, and a whole heap of impros, some with drones, some with effects, some acoustic. I also put on the odd bit of music, so I could rest sometime – that was fun, too.

But what a wonderful experience – in a beautiful old manor house, in the hall, in the middle of the gentle and serene Latvian countryside, and packed with people all bringing their camping mats and sleeping bags and cushions. It somehow felt uniquely Latvian (lots of young people), and the atmosphere was so warm, I was just amazed at how many people turned up for such a crazy concert! It was the end of three days at the Introvert Music Festival, which is a concept I love. A different way of presenting and listening to music, and very inspiring – every city in the world should have one.

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Rainbow in Riga

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I was walking through the old town square in Riga with my cello on my back (on my way to play the Protecting Veil), and this wondrous site greeted my eyes!

rainbow in riga

It put me in such a good mood I was sure the concert would go well, and even decided to play in bare feet as it was so warm.  I think it went well, except I completely forgot to play one phrase, and wondered why the orchestra were so behind. Oops). The Kremerata Baltica were excellent – they make a wonderful luminous sound, much more like a big chamber group than a small orchestra. Back to London to see my daughter dance at the Royal Opera House tomorrow, then back to Latvia for an all night concert on Saturday. Tonight’s conductor gave me some Russian tea that apparently keeps you awake  – that’ll be handy.

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Visiting John Tavener

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Last week I drove down to deepest Dorset to visit John Tavener, and play The Protecting Veil to him ahead of my performance in Latvia this week. I was supposed to see him three years ago to play to him, but he was very ill at the time: so ill that it was touch and go whether he would survive, so it was doubly special to see him looking bright and focused, and enjoying listening to his work. There were several questions about speeds that I wanted to ask him, and a few details of articulations and notes etc. It felt like a great honour to play to him. In my opinion The Protecting is one of the very greatest cello concertos ever written – it is strikingly original, a tonal work with fabulous streaks of dissonance that explores the possibilities of the cello as a singing instrument like no other piece. And it is one of the physically hardest, at 45 minutes with no break at all! I also think it is perhaps the most emotionally profound of all cello concertos, as it deals with such extraordinary concepts and stories – the annunciation, the incarnation of Christ, the Lament of the Mother of God at the Cross, and other passages. In short, it is a joy to play, and just spending a few hours with him, and chatting about music over lunch was a huge inspiration. May his health continue to improve.

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