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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Cello Concerto (2012)
Commissioned by Barbican, London and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
St. Rose Music Publishing
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Nico Muhly Cello Concerto (2012)
When the Barbican asked me to write a concerto for Olly Coates and the Britten Sinfonia, I immediately started making plans. I wanted to write something formally traditional (fast-slow-fast) but with steadily developing content. The first movement is angular, the second supple, and the third motoric; there is constant progression and no looking back. The first movement begins with a texture quite explicitly stolen from the first bar of Dutilleux’s Métaboles, and proceeds from there. A series of “melting” textures in the strings, muted trumpet, percussion & piano antagonizes the soloist, who plays a quick perpetual motion toccata before the entire structure devolves into drones. The second movement begins with a very long drone over which the cello spins short lyrical phrases. Decorative chromaticism slowly becomes more pronounced, and the movement ends in a shimmer of bells and rude brass. The third movement is a long piece of fast process music: essentially a digital delay applied to two lines of counterpoint. The result is bright and insistent. The concerto ends enigmatically, with foghorn brass and a long, sustained drone from the cello.

Nico Muhly

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
    Zuill Bailey, cello
    Jun Märkl
    Steinway & Sons:
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