This week’s theme is not cello, but multiple cellos, or celli. It is a pleasure to have more than one cellist playing at once, though, this is usually the case only in orchestra. In rare instances, you may get a string quintet with an extra cello or some cello ensemble going, but these opportunities are few and far between. (What do you call a group of cellists? A herd? A flock? A school? Are we beasts, birds, or fish).
Today, my friend and colleague Aimon Dwan joined me at Emmanuel Episcopal church of Petoseky, MI. Aimon is a native of Northern Michigan and has just completed a degree in music education from Wooster College of Ohio. The two of us became friends as members of the Bay View Music Festival in the summer of 2012. Having played not only the Mendelssohn Octet but a full musical (Titanic) and an opera (Don Giovanni) together, I would say that we make a good team.
Two of the pieces comes from the Sonata No. 10 in G Major by Jean-Baptiste Barrière. If Wikipedia in its infinite wisdom is not lying to me, Barrière was born in 1707 and lived to the age of 40. He was a predecessor to the better-known Jean-Pierre and Jean-Louis Duport brothers who lived in the second half of the 18th century. The Barrière Sonatas are written for two cellists in equal parts. Barrière’s writing is as fun to play as it is enjoyable to listen to due to its conversational nature and virtuosic quality.
I must thank Prof. Emilio Colon for recommending this musical selection to me. Not only is Prof. Colon a wealth of knowledge of the cello literature, but he also understands the value of the “cello fellowship” that is gained by playing together. As a member of his studio from 2009-2013 while studying at Indiana University, I looked forward to each year’s studio party to play cello quartets with our members.
The other two pieces come from the Germanic school of the cello. David Popper (1843-1913), infamous and potentially hated by many a modern cellist, wrote 40 of the most difficult etudes in the cello repertoire published in the “High School of Cello Playing”. He also wrote 15 etudes in first position for beginning students. These etudes feature an accompanying cello part, and surprisingly, are charming and fun to play.
I must also thank Cara Miller-Colon for introducing me to these etudes. I had the opportunity to work with four of Cara’s cello students this last year and, at her studio’s recital, accompanied two students on their Popper etudes.
In other news, I have come to possess a “fixer-upper” cello. I will hopefully have more to say about this later this summer as it becomes a playable cello.
In other news, today is David Popper's Birthday!