Benjamin Britten's three suites for solo cello were composed between 1964 and 1971 for his friend, Russian virtuoso Mstislav Rostropovich, and their technical demands put them among the most challenging works in the solo repertoire, alongside the six cello suites of J.S. Bach. This 2012 Delphian recording by Scottish cellist Philip Higham delves deeply into the suites' expressive potential, and the music's emotional riches are wonderfully communicated in these focused performances. Higham is an accomplished musician, yet he doesn't strive for obvious effects, and while his mastery of the suites' difficulties is apparent, his playing seems effortless. His legato lines and vibrant harmonies make listening almost seem like a luxury, and the warmth of his tone makes even his pizzicati and strummed effects feel vibrant and soothing. However, at times his breathing becomes quite heavy and a bit intrusive, though this is the only distraction to mar the recordings, which otherwise have clean sound. The recordings were made in St. Mary's Parish Church, Edinburgh, and even though the immediacy of the cello is close to studio quality, with sufficient resonance to give the music luster, it is never overwhelmed by the church's acoustics.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Suite for Cello No. 1, Op. 72|
|Suite for Cello No. Cello No. 2, Op. 80|
|Suite for Cello No. 3, Op. 87|