a sonata for solo cello

Richard Whalley

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a sonata for solo cello

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Composer Richard Whalley
Year of Composition 2008
Duration ca.20'
ISMN 9790570682317
Student Difficulty adv
Categories (all composers) , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-rw1t1


This cello sonata takes two very different sources for its inspiration: J.S. Bach and
Tarantino’s film Deathproof (2007). Bach speaks for himself: how can one not think of
him when writing for cello? Where Tarantino’s orgy of fast cars, beautiful women, a
twisted predatory male and adrenalin fits in perhaps takes more explanation. In
writing this piece two qualities of Tarantino’s film impressed me: its gutsy yet
intimate cinematography (there are no special effects; all stunts are real) and its
simple black-and-white symmetrical structure, causing the second half of the film to
be viewed in a particular way having been set up by the first half.

The sound of the cello is remarkable for its expressive range. From darkly sinister to
highly-strung intensity to the sweetest lyricism, perhaps no instrument lends itself
better to a musical representation of the qualities I was impressed by in Deathproof.
The four movement structure – inspired by the symmetry of the film – is designed to
exploit contrast. Thus the four movements are organised: lyrical/dark – physical/light
– lyrical/light – physical/dark. The climactic final movement is in fact an attempt to
depict the intense speed, physical excitement, and inescapable fear of a car chase.

This sonata was composed for the cellist Oliver Coates during the spring and
summer of 2008.