For Cello and Ensemble

(2013) 25 minutes

Solo Instrument(s): Cello

Orchestration: 1111/1000/str(
(also performable in Chamber Orchestra format with single winds/brass and string ensemble)

Commissioned by David Cohen and premiered at St. Leonard’s Shoreditch on the 15th June (as part of the 2013 Spitalfields Festival) by David Cohen and the Rambert Orchestra conducted by Paul Hoskins. 

Programme note

Katharsis is variously inspired by the ‘cello suites of Bach and Britten, my relationship with the ‘cello, the life of a classical musician in modern times (where ‘stars’ can be born overnight with the help of stylists and Saturday night telly) and my time so far as the third Music Fellow with Rambert Dance. It is a twenty minute piece comprising six (sometimes continuous) movements: Prelude, Moto Perpetuo, Minuet and Trio, Sarabande, Gavotte and Canto. 

I was thrilled when David Cohen approached me with this commission: having known him since he was a teenager (we both went to the Yehudi Menuhin School, in the days when I was sure that upon graduating I would immediately and effortlessly embark on a career as an International Concert ‘Cellist) I feel particularly privileged to have witnessed the development of his playing over the years, and this was at the forefront of my mind whilst writing Katharsis

My determination to be a composer was ignited during the premiere of my Concertino for ‘Cello and Orchestra, performed by Peter Dixon and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the BBC Young Composer Competition in 1996. The completion of this new work for ‘cello and ensemble some seventeen years later is therefore replete with musical and personal significance for me. 

© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2013 


"The striking opening of Katharsis, the cello concerto written for David Cohen (the soloist here) immediately betrays the fact that the cello was Frances-Hoad’s first love, so idiomatic and ‘inevitable’ does it sound. While she has identified the solo Suites of Bach and Britten as the inspirational trigger for this substantial work in six movements I feel this admission relates more to the formal structure of each movement (Prelude; Moto perpetuo; Minuet & Trio etc) than to the musical content per se. There is so much going on throughout - an arresting variety of timbre, mood, melody and rhythm - that it seems churlish to name specific influences when Frances-Hoad’s own voice is so recognisable and her inspiration so consistently high. So abundant are the musical ideas that the concerto needs its six movements to accommodate them comfortably, but none is left undeveloped – indeed all are most satisfyingly resolved. There is real concision here – absolutely no padding. The music can effortlessly evoke at different moments both great depths of feeling and a huge sense of fun. But there is nothing clichéd or artful about it, simply a composer revelling in the realisation of her own considerable abilities. The reprise of the opening at the outset of the final canto is seamlessly managed – its moving denouement perhaps shares its spirit with the conclusion of Berg’s Violin Concerto. Frances-Hoad also reveals great flair in maximising the colouristic opportunities afforded by the small ensemble (wind quintet and strings). Katharsis leaves a lasting impression." 

Richard Hanlon, MusicWeb International 

"Lyrically impassioned music"

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

"The six movements of the cello concerto Katharsis resemble a Baroque suite, but the music, with its intriguing Britten references, is imbued throughout with a neo-romantic impassioned intensity."

Records International 

Performance history (post-premiere)

25th August 2019 - Alice Neary and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra conducted by George Vass as St. Andrew's Church, Presteigne, Wales, UK - part of the Presteigne Festival

17th October 2017 - David Cohen, cello and the Detmolder Kammerorchester conducted by Alfredo Perl at the Konzerhaus, Detmold (German Premiere)

11th December 2013 - David Cohen and Rambert Orchestra conducted by Paul Hoskins at Rambert, London, UK


Buy Stolen Rhythm, Cheryl's CD featuring Katharsis

Download from iTunes

Stream on Spotify


Peruse the score online with Issuu

Watch an excerpt on YouTube