Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason expresses his artistic freedom


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Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Decca)

New Classical Tracks - The Knights

Song really speaks to the vocal quality I find in all the pieces of music that I selected for my instrument,” cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason said about expressing his artistic freedom on his latest solo recording, Song. ”The cello has such a wonderful ability to sing in all of these different styles and combinations of instruments in arranging while improvising. The cool singing quality of the cello is something I enjoy exploring. I enjoyed making this album and it is very personal for me.”

Can you talk about the opening arrangement on the album?

“There’s something very direct about these folk melodies. I made this arrangement just for solo cello with no harmony because I wanted to just appreciate the bare bones of the melody. I just wanted to play like that.

“There's so much music on this recording, which uses the cello in different ways. I wanted to start with something very pure and the sound of a solo cello line. The voice of the cello develops throughout the disc and ends with a piece of pizzicato solo cello.”

What was the title of the work you arranged for your grandmother?

“The title is Myfanwy and I love the expressiveness of the falling intervals.”

Are you playing this trio all by yourself?

Yes. I recorded three voices of just me. It's actually harder than I thought it would be to play with myself. Normally when I'm playing with other people, I'm in the room and I can physically feel what they are doing. But when it's coming through a headphone you're playing in a slightly different experience. It was a cool way to do it.”

Can you talk about the Bach work arranged for four cellos?

“On that one, I was less lonely. I convinced four friends to play with me. I had my current teacher, one of my previous teachers and a couple of friends who have mentored me to join me on the album.”

Can you talk about the world premiere of Edmund Finnis’ Five Preludes?

I love the first prelude. There's a conversational and intimate feeling about it. The music speaks to me. I feel that I'm able to speak with it because it's music that doesn't shout out to grab your attention. Rather, it draws you into this intimate conversation. This intimacy is something that I enjoy exploring and performing.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Decca store)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason — Song (Amazon store)

Sheku Kanneh-Mason (official site)

356 episodes