“a steadfast voyager on a road laced with spangly seduction”  Guardian (Kate Molleson)

On 28 and 29 September Ilan Volkov and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra are joined by Charles Curtis for Cassandra Miller’s Duet for Cello and Orchestra at Glasgow’s City Halls and the Aberdeen Music Hall.

The Guardian has hailed the 30-minute piece as one of the finest classical works of the 21st century. The concerto is partly a homage the long cantabile lines of Bellini’s music. A meditative solo cello, see-sawing gently between two notes – “a steadfast voyager on a road laced with spangly seduction” (Kate Molleson, Guardian) – is the vehicle for Charles Curtis’ introspective performance practice, whose mood is offset by freewheeling, Romantic orchestral writing. Duet’s source material is the Italian folksong Trallallera, as performed by Maria Carta, whose recording Miller transcribed with painstaking accuracy to capture the finer details of her phrasing and musicianship.  

Miller discusses Duet for Cello and Orchestra with Volkov on his podcast. It is one of Miller’s many compositions that takes the human voice as an imaginative prompt. Maria Callas’ famous recording of Puccini’s ‘Vissi d’arte’ gave rise to her 2010 work Bel Canto for mezzo soprano and six players; 2021’s La Donna draws on Genovese traditions of Trallalero street singing. Her latest choral work The City, Full of People, premiered this summer by the National Chamber Choir of Ireland and Paul Hillier, grew from her trecollections of hearing the Thomas Tallis Lamentations as a teenager.

Volkov, Curtis, and the BBC SSO gave the world premiere of Duet at the Tectonics Festival in Glasgow in 2015. That performance of the work was released on Another Timbre in 2019. Curtis gave the North American premiere of the piece with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Mickelthwate, and the Swiss premiere with the L'Orchestre de Chambre de Geneve, conducted by Kanako Abe. Duet was also performed at the 2019 London Contemporary Music Festival by Anton Lukoszevieze and the LCMF Orchestra, conducted by Jack Sheen.