Review: Sheku Kanneh-Mason Plays Milton Court

In 2016 the then 16-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason won BBC Young Musician, it was 2018 when the accomplished musician played at the Royal Wedding, viewed by over 2 billion people worldwide.

Sheku is founding member of Chineke, Europe’s first professional orchestra of BAME musicians, his debut album selling over 100.00 copies and he was winner of Classical Brit, not bad for any 19-year-old.

Sheku_Kanneh_Mason-Milton_Court_031218_0468
Sheku Kanneh-Mason in recital (accompanied by Isata Kanneh-Mason on piano) performing Boccherini: Cello Sonata No6 in A Major and Poulenc: Cello Sonata in Milton Court Concert Hall Photo by Mark Allan Barbican

On 4th Dec 2018 Sheku played Milton Court another accomplishment that is mostly afforded to “older” musicians, it must be said that the average age of the audience was well over 55. Seeing such a young, eloquent and charismatic presence on the UK concert scene we are hoping that it would encourage diversity within classical music. Sheku is passionate about the importance of making classical music accessible to all and is the first London Music Masters Junior Ambassador.  In an interview with Classical FM when asked “is music becoming an elitist subject?. He said.

 “Music has an amazing way of expressing lots of things, and every person reacts to it differently. To not have the opportunity to properly experience that is a terrible shame”.

And quite rightly to be at Milton Court where the Kanneh-Masons performed an ambitious eclectic mix of sonatas by Debussy and Brahms, with 21-year old Isata on piano was a night worth remembering. The programme consisted of three masterworks of the cello and piano repertoire by Poulenc, Debussy and Brahms, introduced by a Boccherini cello sonata no 6 cellist, the ornamented and somewhat improvised intent was there. Sheku displayed technical mastery not forgetting the romanticism of Brahms second Cello sonata. In Debussy’ slate Sonata with Piano D Minor Sheku offered an inspiring interpretation of this sonata, complimenting one of Debussy’s most experimental works, with a nuanced tempo and sharp bursts of accented notes.

With Isata on piano the two effortlessly moved between lead and support fluidly allowing the two current Royal Academy students, to showcase a mature talent well above their years and in the rank of more established musicians. The Kanneh-Masons could not escape without a standing ovation enchanting the audience with an encore of the Kanneh-Mason’s version of the haunting carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ – by Gustav Holst.

A brilliant duo!. We watch this space with excitement and anticipation.

Main image credit: Sheku Kanneh-Mason in recital (accompanied by Isata Kanneh-Mason on piano) performing Debussy: Cello Sonata and Brahms: Cello Sonata No2 in F Major in Milton Court Concert Hall.
Photo by Mark Allan

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