Ahead of concerts with the Colorado Symphony 23 to 25 February, the cellist speaks about the concerto that was written for her, which she describes as a mixture of Britten and Shostakovich, with Jewish and Celtic influences


Inbal Segev © Bri Elledge

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Anna Clyne’s Cello Concerto DANCE was written for you. How did the commission come about?

INBAL: I was introduced to Anna by conductor Marin Alsop a few years ago. Marin had a sixth sense about bringing us together. She knew that Anna is a cellist herself, and that she was thinking of writing a cello concerto. Marin thought that Anna would love my playing, so commissioning this work came about organically.  

The premiere was at the Cabrillo Festival with Cristian Măcelaru conducting – and a couple of months later I recorded the work with Marin and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.  That recording has garnered more than ten million Spotify listens. So, we’re very, very happy! I have performed the work more than 30 times all over the world, and it’s been loved by audiences from the very beginning. Other major cellists have taken on the work recently and have been performing it too in Europe and in the United States so, it’s becoming a part of the standard repertoire. 

Bachtrack named Clyne as one of the top ten most performed contemporary composers in the world recently. What is it about her music that you think is so appealing to today’s audiences?

INBAL: I think her work is immediately accessible in that it does not necessarily require multiple hearings to understand it and enjoy it. On the other hand, it’s still deep. It’s far from being superficial. So, it really has that depth and yet this accessibility, and I think it really speaks to the heart. It’s tonal yet it feels fresh and new. It has a modern sensibility, and yet you can really feel that it relies on the old masters. 

Tell us about the cello writing in the piece. Does it take stylistic influences from anything in particular?

INBAL: Yes. Anna herself told me she was inspired by Britten’s Cello Symphony. I also hear some Shostakovich in the second movement. There are definitely Jewish motifs there too. Anna’s father is Jewish, and I hear the augmented second that comes back a few times, especially at the very end. And that soaring melody – it’s so beautiful! I’m very happy that it has that little bit of Jewishness there. I also hear Celtic music there, which makes sense as Anna is from the UK, and of course that’s part of her heritage. 

What are you most looking forward to in your performances with the Colorado Symphony 23-25 February?

INBAL: I have heard and wanted to play with the Colorado Symphony for a very long time. I had a friend whose uncle played in the symphony years ago. I also love Colorado because it’s such a beautiful state. And my sister lives in Denver. Apart from all those reasons, I’m also very excited to play with Marin again, because I always enjoy performing with her. She’s one of the greatest living conductors today. I feel like we have birthed this concerto together, so it’s great to come back to perform it with her!

Inbal Segev will perform Anna Clyne’s Cello Concerto DANCE with the Colorado Symphony and Marin Alsop on 23, 24 and 25 February 2024 in Denver.

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