Harriet Steinke

Suite for Two Cellos

$35.00

Duration:

Instrumentation: Two Cellos

Delivery Method: Physical Delivery
Performance Materials: Score and Parts

In February of 2017, I had just given my first recital at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and had started planning for my next recital. I was toying with programming the Suite for Solo Cello by Benjamin Britten when, around the same time, Harriet sent me a message saying she had just listened to that very piece for the first time and wanted to write a piece like it. The piece took shape over the next several months. I had initially asked for a piece for solo cello, but it was Harriet’s idea, quite early in the process, to add a second cello part. Although this piece took its initial cues from Britten’s Suite for Solo Cello, and I did program the two pieces alongside each other, Harriet’s “Suite for Two Cellos” draws the bulk of its inspiration from the very fact of its instrumentation.

—Kellen Degnan, 2021

 

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129-004-SP
Delivery Method: Physical Delivery
Performance Materials: Score and Parts

About the Work

Movements:
I. Prelude
II. Song
III. Shadows
IV. Parallels

Instrumentation: Two Cellos

In February of 2017, I had just given my first recital at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and had started planning for my next recital. I was toying with programming the Suite for Solo Cello by Benjamin Britten when, around the same time, Harriet sent me a message saying she had just listened to that very piece for the first time and wanted to write a piece like it. The piece took shape over the next several months. I had initially asked for a piece for solo cello, but it was Harriet’s idea, quite early in the process, to add a second cello part. Although this piece took its initial cues from Britten’s Suite for Solo Cello, and I did program the two pieces alongside each other, Harriet’s “Suite for Two Cellos” draws the bulk of its inspiration from the very fact of its instrumentation. According to Harriet, each movement is a meditation on a different aspect of the same musical idea, and the Prelude, written last of the four, is a deliberate introduction to the essence of the piece. The Prelude explores the sonic capabilities of two cellos playing as one. Layered as they are on one another, the two cellos create a sonority that is greater than the sum of its parts. The second movement, Song, is the emotional and structural core of the piece. It originates from one of Harriet’s earliest sketches of the piece, when it was still intended to be a solo work. The sketch tellingly bears the heading “Featuring canon,” which indicates Harriet’s predisposition for multiple voices from the outset. Unlike the other movements, where the two cellos play mostly in rhythmic unison, Song unfurls through imitative layering of the opening melody, spun into one unbroken phrase that arches over the entire movement. The title of the next movement, Shadows, is a summation of the role of the second cello throughout the piece. Cello 1 carries the principal line for most of the movement with Cello 2 as a constant companion, supporting--or shadowing--their partner with essential harmonic content and textural variations. The final movement, Parallels, is the most Britten-esque of the piece. Harriet describes this movement as an “answer key” to the rest of the piece, distilling the parallel motion inherentto each of the other three movements to some degree and making it the sole focus. Since its premiere on November 2, 2017, I have had the pleasure of performing the Suite for Two Cellos multiple times, as both first and second cellist. It is impossible to express in words how important this piece is to me, and I can only offer my gratitude for having been a part of its creation. —Kellen Degnan, 2021

Pages: 15