Natalie Clein performs in ‘Cello Unwrapped’ series at Kings Place

Cellist Natalie Clein, Senior Associate Research Fellow at Christ Church and Director of Music Performance in the Faculty of Music at Oxford University, recently took to the stage in the ‘Tre Voci’ concert at Kings Place on Saturday 30 September.

The concert was part of the ninth edition of Kings Place’s award-winning Unwrapped series, which this year focusses on the cello, taking listeners from the instrument’s earliest beginnings to the ground-breaking works of the 21st century, via composers such as Vivaldi, Boccherini, CPE Bach and Haydn. The cello has also been presented in innovative new contexts, including with singers and choirs, with electronics or distorted, and with a range of other musical influences, such as Indian musicians, a tango band, a folk duo, a jazz ensemble, and a Spanish guitar.

In the concert, Natalie played alongside mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron, with the ‘third voice’ of the concert’s title (meaning ‘three voices’) taken by the grand piano, played by Julius Drake. The programme featured:

Zoltán Kodály – Sonatina
J.S. Bach – ‘Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze’ from Cantata: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV61; Spiritual Songs (arr. Britten)
John Cage – The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs 
Sir John Tavener – Threnos (solo cello); Akhmatova Songs
Deborah Pritchard – Storm Song
Michael Berkeley – ‘Sonnet for Orpheus’ from Three Rilke Songs
Leoš Janáček – Pohádka
Franz Schubert – Auf dem Strom D943

Storm Song was written by composer Deborah Pritchard, a composition tutor at the University of Oxford, for a newly-written text by Jeanette Winterson; the piece was commissioned by Oxford University’s Faculty of Music for International Women’s Day last year. More information is available on the Music Faculty website.

Comments on Natalie's playing in a review by Claire Seymour in ‘Seen and Heard International’ include: ‘Clein’s immersion in the Romantic and rhetorical arguments was apparent: her cello quite literally ‘sang’, the sound beautifully fresh and bright, the extended span of the phrases shaped with naturalness. The differentiation of the weight she applied to the bow stroke over different registers was both astonishingly detailed and obviously instinctive and unmannered’. The review is also highly complimentary of the group as a whole: ‘This was wonderfully lyrical and communicative music-making, but it was when the performers probed more recent musical territory that their collective expression gained even greater intensity’.

You can read the full review on the Seen and Heard International website, or take a look at Ivan Hewett’s 4-star review in the Culture section of the Daily Telegraph website.

Natalie returns to Kings Place on 2 November to play the second of the ‘Bach Through Time’ recitals, in which she will play the fourth and fifth suites as well as 20th century reflections. More information and tickets are available on the Kings Place website.