beatrice and the nightingale

Cello solo [8′].

Commissioned by the Amsterdam Cello Biennale 2012.

This piece is inspired by the story of Beatrice Harrison, the famous English cellist of the early 20th century, who used to make live recordings, broadcast by the BBC with Nightingales in her garden in Oxted. In Beatrice and the Nightingale, an extract of a nightingale song is slowed down by a factor of 16 and brought into the range of the cello. This transcription is woven together with a fragment from one of Bach's cello suites Beatrice Harrison has recorded, the Prelude from Suite nº 6 in D major; this is time-stretched to bring it into the time-frame of the nightingale song, and just hinted at rather than stated through the use of silent fingerings or quiet pizzicato. The piece is a duet for one cello as a meditation on the question of: how can we imagine that birds perceive human music?

The music can be ordered from Donemus, Amsterdam.

performance history

  • Premiere at the Amsterdam Cello Biennale 2012, Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam