There are few musical instruments that can bewitch quite like a cello. I have been learning to play it, on and off, for almost a decade. Over the past year, as I have been finishing a book, it has been more off than on. Now, with the book safely tucked in bed, I can pick up a bow again. So, it seems a good time to put together a selection of my favourite cello pieces. It is in three parts. The classical repertoire is well known, so I have kept my choices to a minimum. Far less known are modern works for the cello; fractured and difficult, where classical works are sensuous and beguiling, these compositions nevertheless reveal, often even more brilliantly, the beauty and essence of the instrument. Almost unknown is the jazz cello; which is a pity, because there are superlative jazz cellists, and wonderful cello tracks. Be bewitched.


cello 6


Elgar, Cello Concerto, Jacqueline du Pré

Rachmaninov, Cello Sonata, Msistlav Rostropovic

Bach, Cello Suite No 2, Yo-Yo Ma

Bruch, Kol Nidrei, Pablo Casals





Pascal Dusapin, Invece

Kaija Saariaho, Près

Iannis Xenakis, Nomos Alpha

Arvo Pärt, Cello Concerto

Elliot Carter, Cello Concerto

Brian Ferneyhough, Time and Motion Study II



cello 9


Eric Dolphy, Out There, Ron Carter on cello

Dave Holland, Inception

Abdul Wadud, Oasis

Erik Friedlander, King Rig


The photos are mine; more here and on Flickr and 500px.


  1. Thank you so much Kenan – only I do hope that Yo yo Ma’s interpretation of the Bach is anywhere near as good as Janos Starker or Peter Wispelway – anyway – a quibble in the face of such a great storehouse of cello bliss and excitement

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