Adagio and Scherzo

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This piece for solo cello was composed for Aidan Hollick, who gave the first performance at The Royston Arts Festival in May 1983.

The dark brooding intensity of the C minor Adagio gives way to an unconventional Scherzo, set for the most part in common time, instead of the regular quick triple time.

The initial five-note motif pays tribute to Shostakovich, and recurs persistently in a variety of developed guises, gaining in intensity as the piece progresses.

There are numerous expressive interpolated reminders of the Adagio, and new scherzo motifs appear, pithy and rhythmic and always increasing the overall intensity.

Various cello techniques are used here: prominent use of open strings; pizzicato; tremolando; right-hand pizzicato; sul ponticello; and, in the last bar, a pianissimo descending motif which uses harmonics to bring the work to an unexpected conclusion.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
8 minutes
Solo instrument (Solo Violoncello)
Classical music

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