Colin Riley’s latest work “Warp and Weft”, the world’s first double cello concerto, will receive its world premiere by Manchester Camerata – winners of the RPS Music Award in the Ensemble category – on 8th June 2017. With Gabriella Swallow and Guy Johnston as soloists, the piece is almost exclusively built on the mutual support between the two performers, while celebrating the 300th anniversary of JS Bach’s seminal set of cello suites. Held at the Manchester Cathedral, the premiere will be part of ”The Play Off” – an evening combining both of the two worlds with works by Mozart, Haydn as well as Glass – and a live remix of Riley’s concerto by Youth Forum.
“There are not many double concertos. This might be because the traditional view of a concerto is to pit the virtuosity and flair of a top musical athlete against the might of a large ensemble, and two protagonists is just a bit crowded for them both to shine,” explains the composer as to why he decided to provide a very different approach.
As a combined force, the two cellos bring to life the musical elements around them through the intricate interplay of coaxing and cajoling the orchestra. The music breaks into and away from dance-grooves, Bach-like bowing figurations, and calm contemplative passages but it is always the cellos in close relationship which drives the music with constant bumping together, fusing, or breaking away.
As a hidden treasure inside the music is the Prelude from Bach’s first solo suite, perhaps the most famous bit of all cello music. This weaving in of an old masterpiece further adds to the interlacing of musical styles which pervade the whole piece.
To celebrate the occasion, Colin Riley has produced a book dedicated to the piece, a uniquely interesting and at times intensely personal insight into the journey behind composing ‘Warp and Weft’, his Concerto for Two Cellos, Strings and Percussion. Taken originally from blog entries, the book charts the creative processes and day-to-day administrative struggles of a contemporary composer. Make sure you don’t miss out on it – it’s available here though Amazon.
THE PLAY OFF
Thursday 8 June 2017 7:30 pm
Tickets and more information here.