by Daniel Hautzinger
Both pieces, along with three suites, were written for the legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Britten and Rostropovich were friends and collaborators, and recordings exist of Britten conducting the Symphony with Rostropovich as soloist, and of the two performing the Sonata (Britten was a fine pianist as well as a composer).
Rostropovich and Britten cast both works as epic dramas, life and death conflicts. Bailey works on a smaller scale: in the Symphony, he becomes a dire prophet warning of the apocalypse.
Titled “symphony” instead of “concerto,” it positions the cellist more as a narrator than a soloist, while the orchestra becomes both the setting and the characters. [Read more…]