"This engrossing recital is a defining statement in modern cello playing." Around Britten CD – Sinfini, 2013

Matthew's musical world is one of adventure, collaboration, and diversity.
One of the finest cellists of his generation, Matthew has appeared as soloist with orchestras and in recital in many great concert halls around the world, and is equally comfortable with improvisation, making music with Indian, Brazilian or Jazz musicians... or a classroom full of children.

Around Britten CD

January 30th, 2013

SIGCD318A defining statement in modern cello-playing’ Sinfini *****

My new CD is out – of course it is centred around Britten (the 3rd solo suite), and also features beautiful solo works by John Tavener and Gavin Bryars (this last one is the first recording of the piece), and an improvisation, all recorded in Canterbury Cathedral. I’ve also put on some arrangements of Britten songs that I made for multiple cellos, multi-tracked in my home studio including Since She Whom I Loved which is from Britten song cycle The Holy Sonnets of John Donne. It’s got to be one of the most intimate and moving songs ever written and I think it works really well on cello. I’m happy with it – more so than usual for my recordings, which are sometimes hard to listen to! And it’s great to have the disc out to coincide with my tour – here are a few reviews…on the new Sinfini website and on Amazon (where you can also buy it) and Presto News

Watch the making of my Around Britten CD below, recording in the dead of night in Canterbury Cathedral (super-exciting!), and multi-tracking Britten songs at home. Alternatively, click here to watch it on YouTube.

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Please keep the Donations coming!

January 3rd, 2013

In 2013 I’m taking to the road for Around Britten, a mammoth tour of  celebrating Britten’s centenary. Here, I’m raising money for an exciting part of the tour: the amazing, oil-paint-on-glass 22′ Stop-Frame animation created by Yeast Culture. Please consider making a donation however small or large – you get the warm fuzzy glow from helping the arts, and your name on screen at the end of the performance!. Click here

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New video on YouTube…

December 13th, 2012

Matthew Barley talks about the Around Britten tour and cd release. Watch the video here

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Britten crowd-funding opportunity

December 7th, 2012

Today I launched a crowd-funding opportunity for my giant Britten tour for next year that could see your name on a screen at the end of my concert – 50 times around the UK!  An outstandingly creative company called Yeast Culture (who created the award-winning visuals for Akram Khan’s latest show) are creating a stop-frame animation to go with Britten’s third suite – we’ve been working closely on the content and you can see a preview of the beautiful oil-paints-on-backlit-glass effect here. I recently heard that two applications to trusts had been unsuccessful, so am launching this initiative to cover the shortfall in the film’s budget, and also to provide for a roadie/engineer for the 1000s of miles we will travel around the UK.

The tour, Around Britten, is my biggest ever project, and one that could not be more of an all-consuming passion! The 50 concerts and 50 workshops will feature Bach, Tavener, commissions from James MacMillan, Dai Fujikura and Norwegian DJ Jan Bang, and the piece with the visuals: Britten’s Third suite for solo cello.
Please, if you can, just donate £10 and if enough people chip in, we’ll get there (of course, if you feel like giving lots more, don’t let me stop you!).

You can see lots of details by going to the Around Britten page (top left), but concert performances will include South Forland Lighthouse, Peak Cavern (The Devil’s Arse), Bodiam Castle, Manchester Victoria Baths, the Wigmore Hall, Canterbury Cathedral, Shetland Arts Centre and many more.
Workshops will take place in schools, hospices for children, prisons, schools for autistic children, universities and homes for the elderly.


Click here to join the crowd!

And PLEASE, help spread the word – the campaign has started well, but we have a long way to go!

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The Safe Haven of the Stage

October 9th, 2012

I find increasingly that being on stage is like a sanctuary. It feels strange but is palpable. Last week I was playing with Julian Joseph at the Bonn BeethovenFest in one of the best chamber halls around – the BeethovenHaus (next to where  Ludwig was born). We played a programme of Brazilian songs peppered with Julian’s own classic compositions and some improvisations. And I felt so incredibly happy throughout – I wonder if it is simply the joy of being in the moment, which, if you’re playing music properly, is the only place you can be.

And this week I’ve been in Madrid playing Brett Dean’s extraordinary score to Jiri Kylian’s equally profound ballet, and as the first notes of the electronic accompaniment to my on-stage solo cello begin to sound it is as though I sink into a dream world, that is, I suppose, art. It is a world that gives such strength, meaning and beauty that is sustains you back into ‘real’ life. It truly inspires. All the problems of trying to get cellos on aeroplanes, of being given a hotel room smaller than a hamster cage with a window that doesn’t open looking out on to a concrete wall (managed to get upgraded to a suite! Joy!), and of having taxi drivers interrogate you (I must have answered the question about how long I’ve been playing the cello 1000s of times – I really understand why Van Morrison has on his rider that his driver must be able to speak English, but must not do so unless addressed!).

And this is why live performance is so wonderful – this kind of experience is so much harder to get with recorded music. It’s why we must always be working to get the message across that live music is a necessity, not a luxury.

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