Piece of the week 26: Lunar Landscapes

Some years ago I wrote a set of eight easy pieces for cello and piano – Lunar Landscapes – which for a time featured in the ABRSM graded exams and was published by them. I can’t remember completely why I wrote them, but I had written some really difficult music for cello at about the same time, and I think I may have wanted to try my hand at easy cello pieces, and thought that focusing on aspects of the moon would be attractive to young beginners.

There are, of course, many books for learner cellists, and many of them, traditionally, gave easy musical ideas to the cellist while writing more complex piano parts to add interest to the whole – sometimes to the extent that the cellist was playing a rather dull part while the piano had all the fun.  I tried to resist this, although it’s difficult at the early stages, and although most of my pieces provide melodies that the cellist can enjoy without an accompaniment, there are a couple in which the piano is really necessary to create the full effect.

Well, that’s fine, if you’ve got a piano! But many lessons for young people take place in a small room in which there is not necessarily a piano, or someone to play it, and I think that if I was writing similar pieces today I would provide an option for an accompaniment for a second cello, and probably a backing track too.

The titles are: Moonflight, Moonwalk, The Dark Side of the Moon (yes, I may have unwittingly stolen that title!), Moonbuggy, Moonrock, Man in the Moon, Moonbeams, and New Moon. I hope that these pieces and their titles have inspired cellists over the years – and, to my surprise, they have also inspired two fascinating videos from different ends of Europe.

One of these, from Oulo in Northern Finland, was made this year, featuring Inari Heikkilä, an excellent young cellist who has also drawn the illustrations and written the story. Here’s the link

The other one, made some years ago, is by an Italian cello ensemble, ‘Tiroconlarco’ – again with lovely illustrations and graphics.

Of course, when I wrote these little pieces I had no idea that they would be used in this way and it is fascinating to see how these musicians have revitalised the music and made it into something new!

I do hope you enjoy the two performances above. And if you are interested in the original sheet music, it is here.  Enjoy your journey to the moon!