Cello Dreaming


by Peter Sculthorpe

solo cello, string orchestra and percussion, with optional didjeridu
Solo Instruments with Orchestra, String Orchestra, Cello
perc(1): tam-t/ch.cym/BD/3 tom-t - strings
Commissioned by the BBC especially for the Opening Concert of the Manchester Cello Festival
First Performance
29.4.98, Manchester Cello Festival, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Yan Pascal Tortelier/Steven Isserlis

Score 0-571-52186-X on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
This work draws its inspiration from Australia’s so-called Top End. There, along the northern coastline, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures mingle with those of Melanesia and Indonesia. Cello Dreaming reflects this plurality. In one movement, the work is based upon two ideas. The first, heard at the outset, is an adaptation of an indigenous lullaby. The second is a downward-falling melody of the kind known as a tumbling strain. In the central part of the work, the two ideas are brought together, the lullaby here transformed into a more expansive melody. This melody, always played by the cello, also brings the work to its close. In order to create a sense of place, the body of the music is punctuated by references to the sounds of birds, especially those of seagulls, to gamelan-like figures, skin drum patterns and the ruminations of the didjeridu. Some of the music contains feelings of regret. This is because of my concern about the destruction, mostly through greed and thoughtlessness, of Australia’s environment. I would like to think that our northern coastline may long remain an earthly paradise. Indeed, I believe that we are entering a period of greater caring for the fragility of this planet. Cello Dreaming was commissioned by the BBC especially for the Opening Orchestral Concert of Manchester Cello Festival, 29 April, 1998, for performance by Steven Isserlis, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier. Peter Sculthorpe

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News & Reviews

'Cello Dreaming' reviews

‘Isserlis spun what was almost a plainsong at times over sumptuously atmospheric string textures, which conjured the big landscapes Down Under, with echoes of bird song and even didjeridus. It’s the sort of exhilarating stuff, I’m afraid, that gets modern music a good name.’ Manchester Evening News (UK) (David Harrison), 30 April 1998 Read more

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