"Composed by Vancouver’s Jocelyn Morlock and performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with cello soloist Ariel Barnes, it was a highly charged and emotional performance. As he dove into the three-movement concerto, with a score featuring winds, horns, harp, percussion and strings, Barnes’s cello wound through jarring codas and vibrant passacaglias before reaching its dramatic conclusion, evoking a lucid dream: a kind of “waking dream” where the dreamer has some control over the narrative."

"...rising star (Ariel) Barnes..."

            Macleans Magazine

 

Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto is heard all the time, but not heard like it was with the combination of cellist Ariel Barnes and conductorBramwell Tovey. The pair’s interpretation was something quite extraordinary. Both were happy to indulge Elgar’s swagger as well as his sentiment, plumbing the work’s deepest feelings and never, ever, shying away from its almost stifling sense of melancholy and loss.

The myriad ways this was accomplished would gain nothing by the telling, but this remarkable concerto pairing immediately brings to mind the Tovey/James Ehnes collaboration on Elgar’s Violin Concerto last season. How profligate it would be to lose both as one-time only events; if anything in recent VSO memory needs to be preserved on disc, it is these two Elgar performances.

             The Vancouver Sun 

engaging performance by cellist ariel barnes leaves mco fans wanting more

One of the hallmarks of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra has always been its savvy programming that balances well-loved chestnuts with modernistic fare. It also knows how to present newer artists that its loyal audiences regularly fall in love with.

The concert showcasing guest cellist Ariel Barnes Tuesday night again proved the point.

Hailed for his luscious tone and technical prowess, the rising star has served as principal cellist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Bramwell Tovey, conductor) since January 2013. He’s also been recently selected by the CBC as one of six Canadian cellists for its celebrated Canadian Bach Cello Suite Project.

The program led by Anne Manson opened with an excerpt from Ernest Bloch’s three-part From Jewish Life (1924). Barnes immediately infused its first movement Prayer with soulful longing — albeit somewhat restrained — that at first seemed a plea not born of passion, but world-weary resignation. However a great artist is one that paces with an eye on the whole, so that his final declamatory bursts gained greater strength by contrast.

Barnes also treated us to a classical confection: Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major, H.VIIB:2 that brims with sunny spirits as much as technically treacherous passagework.

After a leisurely introduction in Allegro moderato by the now expanded orchestra, the cellist once again leapt in with ease, navigating its series of double stops underscored by lyrical phrasing.

A warmly engaging performer — just what MCO audiences love— Barnes often beamed at the other musicians, communicating infectious joy to all those around him. A highlight proved to be his cadenza that scaled the heights before plummeting back to tonal depths.

The Adagio allowed greater opportunity to hear his honeyed tone emanating from his 1730 New-land Johannes Franciscus Celoniatus cello from Turin, Italy, on loan to him for three years courtesy of the 2012 Canada Council Instrument Bank Competition.

Then it became time for the rollicking Rondo that steadily grows in complexity. Barnes showed us his dramatic side as the folksy theme temporarily veered into minor key territory, before finally returning to its buoyant self including lightning speed figuration....Hopefully this dynamic performer will return — and soon.

           Winnipeg Free Press

 

“The sold-out house on Tuesday was one of the quieter and certainly more attentive audiences I’ve encountered in recent months…Britten’s demands on his instrumentalist are considerable, but always well thought out and idiomatic. Writing for a performer of Rostropovich’s stature inspired Britten to create music of commensurate status. Barnes negotiated the virtuoso detail with considerable aplomb. He has a big sound—when he needs it—and an extensive palette of attractive string colours. His assimilation of Britten’s often enigmatic style was mature; there was no sense of effects for the sake of effects, no untoward theatrics or cuteness. His readings were bold and thoughtful and his spoken introductions on target. In all, an evening of serious music-making given additional lustre by a fresh and creative presentation.”

          The Vancouver Sun