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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
Soloist(s) 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:
  • 09 MAY 2015
    Cello Concerto Country Premiere
    Metropolis New Music Festival
    Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne
    Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
    Sophie Rowell, violin; Oliver Coates, cello; André de Ridder, conductor
  • 21 FEB 2014
    Cello Concerto Country Premiere
    Symphony No. 3
    St. Carolyn by the Sea Country Premiere
    Forum Neue Musik
    Frankfurt, Germany
    HR Sinfonieorchester
    Nicolas Altstaedt, cello; André de Ridder, conductor
  • 04 JUN 2013
    Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, Holland
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Oliver Coates, cello; Ilan Volkov, conductor

    Other Dates:
    5 June - Paradiso Amsterdam, Holland
  • 25 JAN 2013
    Cello Concerto US Premiere
    Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  • 16 MAR 2012
    Barbican, London
    Britten Sinfonia
    Oliver Coates; André de Ridder, conductor

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