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John McCabe

Publisher: Novello & Co

Partita For Solo Cello (1966)
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
12 Minutes

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Programme Note
John McCabe Partita For Solo Cello (1966)
Theme - Marcia Giocosa - Aria - Reprise - Jig - Canons - Marcia Funèbre - Finale

Though called Partita, and containing movements whose titles indicate specific characters, this piece is also in effect a set of variations on the theme heard at the start and again, more briefly, as the Reprise after the second movement. The individual parts all derive their ideas from this theme, and treat them fairly freely in various ways. The two marches, one jovial and the other funereal, are character pieces - in the case of the latter, the intention was to tread the line between solemnity and a slight degree of parody. The Aria has something of the character of a free, lyrical cadenza, while the Jig is purely and simply a short display piece, typical of its kind. The most closely argued movements are Canons, culminating in a four-part canon, and the Finale, which has the feeling of a short final rondo. The work was written in 1966 and is firmly centred on the key of C, though since publication the final C major chord has been changed to include an F sharp rather than an E, to emphasize at the last the importance the interval of a tritone assumes in the Partita. This change has since been rescinded, and I now leave it to cellists to decide whether they prefer E or F sharp in the final chord - a rare abdication from the composer's responsibilities!

© 2001 by John McCabe

  • Ensemble
    Dartington String Quartet
    April Cantelo, soprano; Julian Llyoyd Webber, cello; John McCabe, piano
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