Cello Suite No. 1: Heaven and Earth by Michael Clay. Edited by Kourtney Newton.
The idea for this cello suite came from the love and inspiration that both Kourtney and I felt about the Cello Suites of Benjamin Britten. Those remarkable works were born from the close friendship and collaboration between Britten and Pablo Casals, the famous cellist. Through Britten's inspired gifts of composition and Casals technical and performance mastery on the cello, the truly beautiful and unique Cello Suites were born.
Since I had access to a true virtuoso cellist through Kourtney, I thought we could do something similar. I sketched around and came up with the concept of an accompanied cello suite. But I wanted a suite where the accompaniment and the solo cello components were at odds with one another rather than a unified whole. I thought that the piano and harp could represent something other worldly, spiritual or metaphysical. The Cello, with its soloist temperament and earthy, melancholy voice could represent the physical, emotional...the mortal longings of human existence. The piano and harp could provide the spiritual backdrop in front of which the cello sings its joys, laments and passions. Eventually, the dual aspects come together to form a unified, if not altogether harmonious, whole. As the cello proceeds from painful birth, a wooded journey without direction, lonely starless isolation, floods and calamities, into the single minded march for purpose and meaning, heaven quietly vibrates in the background. Finally, we're brought to a state where the unity of the spiritual and the earthly are evinced by a great light. A light that is reflected from the long horizon of the ocean into infinity.