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Britten - (3) Suites for Cello Solo

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Suite for Cello, Op 72: Canto primo: Sostenuto e largamente 2:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Suite for Cello, Op 72: I Fuga: Andante moderato 3:55£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Suite for Cello, Op 72: II Lamento: Lento rubato 2:50£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Suite for Cello, Op 72: Canto secondo: Sostenuto 1:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Suite for Cello, Op 72: III Serenata: Allegretto (pizzicato) 2:21£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Suite for Cello, Op 72: IV Marcia: Alla marcia moderato 3:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Suite for Cello, Op 72: Canto terzo: Sostenuto 2:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Suite for Cello, Op 72: V Bordone: Moderato quasi recitativo 3:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Suite for Cello, Op 72: VI Moto perpetuo e Canto quarto: Presto 3:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Second Suite for Cello, Op 80: I Declamato: Largo 3:45£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Second Suite for Cello, Op 80: II Fuga: Andante 4:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Second Suite for Cello, Op 80: III Scherzo: Allegro molto 1:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Second Suite for Cello, Op 80: IV Andante lento 5:17£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Second Suite for Cello, Op 80: V Ciaccona: Allegro 7:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: i Lento (introduzione) 2:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: ii Allegro (marcia) 1:35£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: iii Con Moto (canto) 1:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: iv Lento (barcarola) 1:37£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: v Allegretto (dialogo) 1:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen20. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: vi Andante espressivo (fuga) 2:38£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen21. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: vii Fantastico (recitativo) 1:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen22. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: viii Presto (moto perpetuo)0:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen23. Third Suite for Cello, Op 87: ix Lento solenne (passacaglia) 9:00£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Suites op.72, op.80, op.87 / Paul Watkins, violoncelle

BBC Review

Is there a patron saint of serendipity? Perhaps he's a cellist; he was surely somewhere in the Royal Festival Hall in September 1960 when Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto was getting its London première. The story's well-known; Shostakovich was there, hed invited Benjamin Britten to sit with him, despite the fact the had never met before, and after the performance, Shostakovich introduced Britten to his soloist, Rostropovich. By the time Britten left, Slava had worked his famous charm on him, and extracted the promise of a new work. The Cello Sonata was duly delivered, then recorded by Rostropovich and Britten in 1961. A friendship was being forged, and so was a whole catalogue of cello works for the Russian. Britten's Cello Symphony was next, and then after hearing Rostropovich play the Bach solo Suites Britten gave him the First Solo Cello Suite as a Christmas gift in 1964, to be followed by two more over the next seven years. Cellists have been marvelling at them ever since.

Typical Britten: not a cellist, yet able to write so idiomatically for the instrument it's as though he'd played it all his life. But somehow these have proved easier for other cellists to claim as their own than, say, the roles written for Peter Pears have for other tenors. True, Slava has an outsized musical personality, but that isn't the key to any of these Suites. Paul Watkins manages to combine cool reflection in the fugue of the Second Suite with the flickering fire of the Scherzo that follows; there's a delicious vocal quality to his playing, with flawless intonation and real sweetness at the top of the cellos' compass, all the way down through the woody grain of the mid-range to a dark, sonorous bass. The Serenata from the First Suite is a masterclass in expressive pizzicato for any student cellist, and the volatility and frailty at the heart of the Third Suite is rendered poignantly, with its sequence of Russian folk songs and variations culminating in the Russian Hymn for the Departed, the Kontakion.

From a technical point of view, Watkins is impeccable: so is the recording, which properly delivers something the actual size of a cello set in a flattering but well-focused ambience.

There's something very British Britten-ish? about the way these Suites manage to be profoundly affecting, while still showing emotional restraint, something I think Paul Watkins feels more instinctively than their dedicatee. I wouldn't be without Rostropovich's recording, but since he only set down the first two, we can buy this newcomer for No. 3, and with a clear conscience. --Andrew McGregor

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Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Lovely 25 Jan. 2006
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These suites were the product of Britten's friendship with the great Russian cellist Rostropovich. They are a bit of an anomaly as he devoted most of his mature career to vocal music, particularly opera composition. Its not entirely fair to say that Britten makes the cello 'sing' - playing a role that would be occupied by the human voice - but his vocal preoccupations inform these suites. These is lovely, subtle music that repays relistening. Watkins' performance is excellent.
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