By Miranda Wilson
One of the top cellists on today’s concert stage, Inbal Segev has also inspired a generation of young players through her popular YouTube channel, Musings with Inbal Segev. Fans will rejoice that Segev has released a disc of Elgar’s Cello Concerto together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Marin Alsop. Also on the disc is another British cello concerto composed exactly one hundred years after Elgar’s, Dance by Anna Clyne (b. 1980).
Such a pairing might seem unusual at first glance, but the two concertos work well side by side. Segev’s Elgar is glorious, with an unabashedly romantic sense of drama, and Dance complements it—and her—perfectly. Based on poetry by Rumi, Clyne’s five-movement concerto provides an atmospheric, almost mystical listening experience. Clyne’s own experience as a cellist no doubt contributes to her fluent idiomatic use of the instrument in the first movement, where the soloist spends much of the time in the glacial upper reaches of the register. Segev’s signature cantabile is the ideal vehicle for Clyne’s heartrending melodies, while her transcendent instrumental technique matches every demand in the fiery, folk-like second movement. The central movement (subtitled In the middle of the fighting) creates the sense of time coming to a standstill—not unlike the ethos in Elgar’s exquisite third movement. Clyne’s fourth movement is simultaneously heartfelt and eerie, the fifth apocalyptic.
Overall, the style is reminiscent of the “holy minimalist” school of composers—with a few nods to Elgar, Shostakovich, and the Bach Cello Suites, too. Clyne’s work deserves a permanent place in the cello canon, while Segev’s magisterial playing makes this a disc to listen to again and again.
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