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Cello Concerto “FAREWELL TO PHILOSOPSHY”. ONE LAST BAR, THEN JOE CAN SING. BY THE VAAR
Rather like Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela, Gavin Bryars’s 1995 Cello Concerto (or Farewell to Philosophy, to quote its Haydn-inspired subtitle) emerges from among shadows, its solo line climbing sadly and patiently until the long first section takes its leave among Parsgial-style string figurations. Section two is more animated, at least initially, until the mood darkens again; the fifth recalls the orchestration of Haydn’s Philosopher Symphony (‘pairs of English and French horns playing alternating legato phrases, muted violins and unmuted lower strings accompanying with staccato quavers’), and the sixth, blurring dissonances and a softly chiming bell. The Farewell connection, again after Haydn, greets the tender final section with its progressive reduction of forces, a haunting 20th-century parallel to the various fin de siècle swan-songs of Franz Liszt. Lloyd Webber’s tone seems perfectly suited to the job, being full-bodied and expressive but relaxed enough to blend with the components of a predominantly dark accompaniment.