Music Alive for Saturday 28 October 2017
British cellist, Matthew Barley’s musical activities take him well beyond the normal scope of a recitalist. As his bio states, “his musical world has virtually no geographical, social or stylistic boundaries.” He “is passionate about improvisation, education, multi-genre music-making, electronics and pioneering community programmes.”
Improvisation is a feature of this performance in Nelson Cathedral ... he links the three contemporary works with short improvisations.
To quote him from a short essay in the programme booklet for the Festival: “The improvisations I do in recital are precious to me. They can stabilise me in the hall with the public. Sometimes the hall feels restless at the beginning as I come on stage (people rushing in from busy days at work). I will just take it slowly and ease into the concert with improvisation. Or if the hall feels sleepy, I will try and do something to wake people up. Improvisation can teach a musician what it really means to be playing in the moment – in repertoire, you can go on automatic (although you certainly shouldn’t!), but if you are making up every note as it happens, there is nowhere to hide.”
In preparation for his performance of the Bach Cello Suite that opens the recital, he takes the audience on a journey and invites them to participate in an exploration of how Bach uses the physical foundation of music, the harmonic series, in the suite.