Cellist Natalie Clein burst onto the scene at 16 when she became BBC Young Musician of the Year. Her BBC Proms debut a few years later was just beginning of a career that perhaps had its seeds when she gave her first public concert aged 10 in a church hall in Dorset. “I immediately felt at home,” she says. Home, then, are stages in London, Tokyo, New York and ports beyond, where she’s in demand as a soloist and recital partner. Clein’s modus operandi is curiosity and generosity – creating opportunities for audiences to connect with the music of the past and the present, illuminated by her intelligence and her formidable technique.
The music Clein has selected are gems of the repertoire: the perpetual motion that opens Bach’s Suite in G is instantly recognisable, and the dances that follow are distillations of grace. The mysterious silences and sounds of contemporary Hungarian composer György Kurtág are aptly titled. These short pieces seem intent on communicating something we can’t quite grasp. Britten and Shostakovich’s sonatas are emotional rollercoasters. While profoundly personal utterances, their resonances are universal. Sydney pianist Alex Ranieri is Clein’s partner for these two essential works of 20th Century chamber music.
In what is surely the most significant year of the Utzon Music Series yet, it’s such a pleasure to bring back an artist whose music and performances I have revisited on my own many a time. It’s well-known that cellists are in a special league of their own; immensely attractive, ardent, and always moving in sympathy with their instrument. Natalie is all this and more – her clever and cheeky performance was the highlight of my last set of visits to Wigmore Hall. I feel privileged to have another opportunity within this special program to get to know Natalie more and share her artistry with you.
BACH Suite for Unaccompanied Cello in G, BWV 1007
KURTÁG Signs, Games and Messages – Selections
BRITTEN Sonata in C for Cello and Piano, Op.65
SHOSTAKOVICH Sonata in D minor for Cello and Piano, Op.40
Natalie Clein, cello
Alex Ranieri, piano