Read about Solo Cello Suite No. 1 by Derek Strahan




The work is a Suite of Jazz Dances in six movements.


1.Prelude - Riffs


3. Boogie-Woogie

4. Blues

5. Soft-shoe Shuffle

6. Fugal Jive and Coda


Solo Cello Suite No.1 was written for Georg Pedersen. It is a frankly frivolous work which also has a serious purpose. The frivolity lies in the nature of the music which takes the form of a set of twentieth century dances of the kind used in dance halls and also used as the basis for performance acts in vaudeville and later in film musicals. The serious purpose derives from the approach to this source material: each movement is at the same time a dance and also a study in metric accuracy, particularly as regards "swing" rhythms. It also aims to adapt features of baroque music to features of "swing" arrangements or perhaps vice versa! There is a resemblance between the sequential use of a melodic figure, retaining its melodic and rhythmic shape through shifts of tonaIitv in, say, a Prelude J.S. Bach, and, say, the closing "riff"passage of an arrangement by Fletcher Henderson for the Benny Goodman Orchestra. By using this device in a work for solo cello, the composer aims to reconcile the work of well-known composers who lived three centuries apart and to underscore the similarity of thought processes. The work is also written to exploit the capacity of the cello to sing two-part harmony. Needless to say, this effect can only be achieved by a virtuoso performer!

At a recent performance by Georg Pedersen for the Ku-Ring-Gai Virtuosi, in Sydney, Australia, November 1999, John Carmondy, music critic for the Sun Herald wrote: "For me, the most engaging work of the program was Derek Strahan's jazz-influenced Suite for solo cello. Like the baroque suites, this is made up of dance movements and there is real wit in hearing a boogie-woogie, tango and a blues coming from a solo cello. The composer never laboured the jokes and Georg Pedersen handled it with aplomb. I almost expected him to waltz off, partnered by his curvaceous cello; enough! These concerts take place in a Uniting Church where no forms of dangerous spirits are to be found."

A live recording of this work is available on CD at the shopping cart on this site.


Solo Cello Suite No. 1 (1991) 15'00" Georg Pedersen, cello, live recording at Ku-Ring-Gai Virtuosi recital, November 1999. 2MBS recording released on JADCD 1081 (the 10th Anniversary Jade CD, titled "Sanctus").