Her programme on October 9 at 8pm at St John the Baptist Church, Westbourne (www.wemsfest.com) will feature: Bach – Suite no.1 in G Major; Tagell – Flamanco; Crumb – Sonata for solo cello; Cassado – Suite for solo cello; and Britten – Suite no.1.
Now based in London and playing with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Ella is delighted to be heading back to home territory: “It is just going to be me, which is quite unusual to have a solo cello recital. Usually you have piano and cello. There are a lot more works for piano and keyboard, but they actually only have an electric piano in the church. The piano parts are often fiendishly difficult and a huge part of the work so it would not really work on an electric keyboard.”
So it’s an interesting challenge: “The first piece I will be doing will be the Bach’s cello suite. There are six that he wrote for the cello, and they are a key part of the cello repertoire. If you are playing the first prelude of the first suite, it’s something that pretty much anyone on the street would recognise.
“The thing about Bach is there are so many way to interpret the suites. If you look at Spotify, there are just hundreds of recordings of the suite. Often people don’t actually record them until they are older because they want to have lived with them a bit first, which doesn’t mean of course you can’t actually play them when you are younger! But there is a greater freedom with them. It’s like a challenge every time you pick them up again because you don’t want to do the same thing you did last time. You have to rework them, you have to try to ask yourself different questions when you go back to them. I am going to be playing the first suite, which is the prelude that everybody knows.”
She will conclude with the Britten and in between times offer the Cassado: “He was a Spanish cellist and composer, and that’s a really fun piece to play. You can just imagine being in the middle of Spain listening to a guitar. He uses quite a lot of techniques that make the cello sound like a guitar!”
Ella wishes she could come up with a slightly-more romantic reason if you ask her why the cello became her instrument of choice: “I have to say it was the only instrument they taught at West Dean primary school. There were not any instruments, and then a lady came in to play the cello and asked if anybody wanted to start learning. Half the school put their hands up which was only about 20 people. It was a very small primary school!
“But really I don’t know whether people choose their instrument or whether they just mould to it as they get older. I can’t really say there is a particular reason why I chose the cello. For me, it is just about the music, about just being able to express yourself without using words. It’s about communicating with people on a different level.”
Ella studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and completed her master’ at the Universität der Künste, Berlin: “I was in Berlin for two and a half years. It was such an amazing place to be a student. There was so much music going on all the time.”]
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