Matthew Barley/Cellist

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

Victor Hugo

“My intention is to create a programme that pays homage to Britten’s creativity and innovation.”  Matthew Barley

The following five pieces form the basis of the recital programme, though there will be variations in certain venues.



DAI FUJIKURA The Spirit of Beings

The concept of this piece is Pre-existence — the idea that the spirit of a newborn child chooses its parents before conception. The four movements in the piece are: Aria, Floating, Awakening and Unending and the electronic parts play on shuffle mode, so there are 24 different permutations for the piece that are not determined until the minute the piece begins on stage.


J. S. BACH Suite No. 5 in C minor

Bach’s music has been described as ‘Supremely LIFE-affirming’. Bach’s fifth suite for solo cello is in the dramatic, velvety key of C minor, and to heighten the colour of this key, Bach requests that the top string be tuned down to a G. This re-tuning loosens the tension of the strings on the bridge, darkening the sound of the cello, and enabling wonderful three- and four-note chords in C minor to be played with ease.


BENJAMIN BRITTEN Third Suite for Cello

Britten’s Third Suite for Cello is based on the Kontakion, the Hymn for the Dead. Written only a few years before the composer’s death, mortality was much on his mind at the time of composition — the Kontakion develops at the close of the work with a peaceful radiance that gives way to a final silence.


JAN BANG Noticing Things

Jan Bang created all these sounds by remixing the electronic files from Dai Fujikura’s piece, The Spirit of Beings. The cello part is completely improvised, and the movements are entitled Replica, Flooded Corridors and Implanted Memories.



And He Rose by James MacMillan is a response to half-remembered chants associated with Easter. The mood is joyful and energetic, like a sustained, physically exuberant alleluia.


Yeast CultureAs part of the Around Britten tour, production company Yeast Culture was invited to create a series of visuals to accompany Britten’s Third Suite for Cello which will be projected on screen at selected recital venues. Click here to find out more about the Yeast Culture collaboration for the Around Britten tour.