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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Anna Clyne; Edward Elgar - Dance; Cello Concerto (Inbal Segev)


Composer: Anna Clyne; Edward Elgar
  • (01) Clyne - DANCE
  • (06) Elgar - Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Inbal Segev, cello
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Marin Alsop, conductor

Date: 2020
Label: Avie



I’m struggling to remember the last time a piece of contemporary music made me cry. Ten weeks of solitary lockdown has doubtless heightened emotions but in the final movement of Anna Clyne’s DANCE, a cello concerto in all but name, a bear-hug of a theme emerges through angry, percussive col legno snaps that is so beautiful, so heartfelt that it instantly drew tears on first hearing. Repeated listening had a similar effect.

The cello is Clyne’s own instrument and she admits in an interview that she never tires of playing, confessing to tucking a quotation from a Bach Sarabande into her new work. At 25 minutes in length, it’s a substantial piece. It was written for the Israeli cellist Inbal Segev and, listening before reading any booklet notes, I detected an eastern influence. The work is dedicated to Clyne’s Jewish father, whose family came from Poland. Each of the five movements bears as its title a line from a poem by the Persian poet Rumi. The first movement, ‘Dance, when you’re broken open’, is a lament with the cello keening in a high register, immediately putting me in mind of John Tavener’s The Protecting Veil.

‘Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off’ is aggressive, folklike in its energy, peppered with double-stops and drones. The reflective ‘Dance in the middle of the fighting’ takes the repeated cello melody higher and higher, while ‘Dance in your blood’ treats the orchestra as a ‘looping pedal’, building to a powerful climax before winding down to a lullaby. But it’s the finale, ‘Dance, when you’re perfectly free’, with its big nostalgic theme, that packs the emotional punch. Segev has performed the work a couple of times in concert and plays it here with dark tone and deep insight, closely supported by Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Clyne writes that Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of her favourite works, so – with exactly 100 years separating them – the Elgar makes for a perfect partner on this disc. And what a performance! I enjoyed this much more than another recent recording with a London orchestra (Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the LSO), mainly because, as securely as Kanneh-Mason plays, he’s yet to fully inhabit this concerto. Right from the opening recitative, Segev is more inclined to wear her heart on her sleeve. She is recorded closely, too, so her resiny, mahogany tone speaks more directly to the listener, although this close balance doesn’t detract from the gossamer semiquaver runs of the second movement. Segev builds to the appassionato climax of the Adagio most persuasively (2'28") and the Quasi recitativo at the start of the fourth movement takes on the quality of a soliloquy. Here is a cellist with something to say. Alsop and the LPO are terrific, the only quibble being a rather lumbering pace at fig 59 (4'56") in the finale. Fans of the Elgar Concerto need to hear this disc, but Clyne’s DANCE should make many friends too.

-- Mark Pullinger, Gramophone


Anna Clyne (born 9 March 1980, in London) is an English composer. She studied music at the University of Edinburgh and the Manhattan School of Music; her teachers have included Marina Adamia, Marjan Mozetich and Julia Wolfe. Clyne was composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony (2010-14), the Orchestre national d'Île-de-France (2014-16), the Baltimore Symphony (2015-16), and the Berkeley Symphony (2017-19). She was appointed Associate Composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for 2019-22. Clyne's music is represented on such labels as AVIE, Cantaloupe, Cedille and Tzadik.


Edward Elgar (2 June 1857 – 23 February 1934) was an English composer, whose many works have entered international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos for violin and cello, and two symphonies. He also composed choral works, chamber music and songs. Elgar has been described as the first composer to take the gramophone seriously. Elgar was the first composer to take the gramophone seriously, and made recordings of most of his major orchestral works between 1914 and 1925.


Inbal Segev is a cellist who grew up in Israel. She began her studies at the age of 5 and, with the recommendation of Isaac Stern, came to the US to continue her studies at the age of 16. Serev holds a bachelor's degree from the Juilliard, and a master's degree from Yale, where her teachers included Joel Krosnick, Harvey Shapiro and Aldo Parisot. She also studied with Bernard Greenhouse and has won prizes at multiple international competitions. Serev has released a number of recordings, including Nigun on Vox Records, and DANCE, a cello concerto by Anna Clyne which was commissioned by Segev in 2019.


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  2. Thank you very much. Beautiful music.