Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason on the music that formed him

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Born in 1999, Sheku Kanneh-Mason is the foremost cellist of his technology. After profitable BBC Younger Musician of the Yr in 2016, in 2018 Sheku performed on the marriage ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and in 2020 he was awarded an MBE for companies to music.

In addition to solo albums for Decca, Sheku has made recordings together with his proficient siblings. Certainly, the extraordinary story of the Kanneh-Mason household has been informed in a number of TV documentaries. Sheku’s solo album, Music, got here out in September 2022 . That very same month, Sheku was to carry out on the Final Evening of the Proms. Nonetheless, the occasion was cancelled following the dying of Queen Elizabeth II.

Right here, Sheku discusses the music that has formed his life and profession.

‘I began taking part in the cello at six and Elgar’s Cello Concerto was the primary piece of classical music that I fell in love with and felt I understood. In fact, my emotions in direction of the piece have modified as I’ve bought older – performing and recording it has taken my relationship with the work to a different stage of connection. It’s formed who I’m as a musician.

‘I listened to the Jacqueline du Pré recording continually and once I was youthful I suppose I attempted to repeat it, however her manner of taking part in and her interpretation are so person who I learnt extra from her method to the music than from particular issues she does with the piece.

‘We grew up listening to recordings of the Elgar Cello Concerto, Beethoven Violin Concerto with Itzhak Perlman, and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy. My brother Braimah performs the violin, my sister Isata performs the piano, and I play the cello so I’m certain it’s no coincidence – that this was the music we have been uncovered to!

Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet is one other piece from my childhood, which I keep in mind listening to notably on automotive journeys. My mum signed us as much as a week-long swimming course one half time period, and the journey was about half an hour, precisely the size of the ‘Trout’. We listened to it twice a day for every week and I actually bought to realize it. It’s such a joyful piece. We needed Jeneba, our fifth sibling, to study the double bass purely so we may play this piece, however my mum stated, ‘No, it’s too large.’ Jeneba now performs the piano!

‘I had an opportunity to work intensively on Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 13 in G main once I was about 15 or 16, on an Easter chamber music course run by MusicWorks. It’s filled with character, selection, vary, with some extremely darkish moments and a few extremely joyful ones. It’s fairly excessive. I’ve solely performed it that when as a result of I don’t have a quartet that I play frequently with.

‘I performed Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 for the BBC Younger Musician competitors in 2016, so you can say it modified my life, however I do know Shostakovich extra by means of his symphonies and his string quartets. The size of his symphonies has such an affect on me, notably No. 11. It’s a must to give it your full consideration, to expertise it along with your entire being. It may be exhausting to hearken to, however extremely shifting.

‘My expertise of symphonies is generally from listening as a result of I haven’t performed a lot in orchestras. I performed within the cello part of Chineke! once I was 16 or 17. It was my first skilled live performance and we carried out Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony – I learnt a lot from being with this wonderful orchestra. In 2017 I used to be the soloist of their BBC Proms live performance, taking part in Dvořák’s Rondo in G minor.

‘The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and Simon Rattle are an incredible workforce – we recorded the Elgar Concerto collectively in 2020 and I just lately performed my first dwell live performance with them in Trafalgar Sq..

‘Mozart’s Requiem has all the time been my mum’s favorite piece and whilst a small little one I beloved it too. I may inform that it was filled with tragedy, however some bits are so stunning and touching, it’s only a masterpiece. My new album, Music, incorporates music that’s private to me and clearly my household has been a powerful affect – the people tune, ‘Myfanwy’ – which I’ve organized for 3 cellos, is my Welsh grandmother’s favorite track. It’s good to have the ability to put collectively an album of all of the music I’ve been listening to and pondering of for a few years.’

Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s selections

Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Jacqueline du Pré (cello), London Symphony Orchestra/Barbirolli

Warner Classics 5555272

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