Sir Simon Keenlyside, baritone
Raphael Wallfisch, cello
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Gergely Madaras, conductor
Jonathan Dove, piano *
World Première Recordings
1. - Cello alone I
2. Daybreak again
3. The first arrow the bow of exile will shoot
4. See, cold Island, we stand
5. I left that land wretched
Listen to me
6. - Cello alone II
7. If I were an ear of corn
8. - Cello alone III
10. Where have the horses gone?
11. My grief on the sea
12. Night Song, for cello and piano *
The idea of writing a cello concerto for Raphael Wallfisch was first mooted more than ten years ago at the Banff Arts Centre, Canada, where Jonathan Dove was composer-in-residence. The two men spoke of Dove’s interest in writing a piece for cello and orchestra, and after further meetings in London, the work began to take shape. Given the composer’s extensive experience of writing for the voice, it was decided that the score would be written for baritone singer and solo cello with orchestra with texts taken from poems by various writers.
The subject matter was suggested by the Wallfisch family history. Raphael’s father fled, together with his mother and brother, to Palestine from Breslau in 1937, and his mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, is a concentration camp survivor. She has written of the persecution of her Jewish family during the Second World War and her own incarceration in Auschwitz and Belsen, where her skill as a cellist saved her life. Knowing of these events, Jonathan Dove was inspired to base the work’s theme on the universal experience of refugees being exiled from their homeland.
In Exile was premièred at the George Enescu Festival on 3 September 2022, followed by a performance in Bucharest on 5 September. Scored for baritone, 'cello and orchestra, Jonathan Dove writes of the piece: ‘In Exile moves through a day in the life of an involuntary exile: waking alone in a foreign land; remembering the moment of banishment, the moment of departure, the voyage; remembering the homeland. The Exile feels the pain of being so far away in his country’s time of need, unable to help his own people. He remembers all the names he has been called in this strange land. He thinks of all he has lost, and longs for home.
The spine of Alasdair Middleton’s libretto is from a 10th Century manuscript, The Wayfarer, by an anonymous old English author. Voices from across the ages flesh out a composite portrait: a single line of Shakespeare recurs among lyrical verses by Dante, Emily Lawless, Kahlil Gibran, Kaveh Bassiri and Douglas Hyde. The theme of exile was suggested by the history of the Wallfisch family, and is dedicated to Raphael’s mother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who has told her story in her book Inherit the Truth 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen.
In Exile fuses elements of operatic scena and concerto, the two soloists expressing complementary aspects of the same character. In Raphael Wallfisch’s words: ‘the cello represents the soul and spirit of the Exile, the baritone is that person and sings the dramatic and often challenging texts. Jonathan’s lyrical style lends itself so naturally to the cello. He exploits every register from the lowest to the highest notes. The cello comments on the sung texts'. (Paul Conway)
Night Song, a short piece for cello and piano is derived from the final section of In Exile. In the calm closing moments of the work the baritone sings of his loss in the words of the poet Douglas Hyde : My grief on the sea, / How the waves of it roll - / For they heave between me / And the love of my soul. Night Song was written partly at the request of the Rachel Baker Memorial Charity – who commissioned the orchestral work – and partly in response to the strong reaction of the first audiences who connected with this uncomplicated musical expression.
Janet Horvath, Interlude, 3 March 2023
Planet Hugill, 21 March 2023