Pavlos Carvalho will make four contributions to this year's Festival of Chichester


In his first of four contributions to this year’s Festival of Chichester, Pavlos Carvalho starts off by indulging his greatest passion: Bach.

On day two of the festival, on Sunday, June 16, from 1-2pm in St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, he will offer the Bach Solo Cello Suites 3 and 5.

“Bach is my absolute bread and butter. I can’t speak for other musicians, but for myself, it is such cathartic music.

“It is amazing music that you can start to learn to play as a young child. There are elements of Bach that physically and mentally you are able to learn when you are very young, but as you get older, you see more and more in them. You realise more and more just how complex they are.

“The Cello Suites start fairly easy and then develop. My daughter is 11 years old and she is playing her first performance of a Bach cello suite. She is playing that music that I am still playing so much older. You can’t learn Dvorak or Rachmaninov as a six-year-old or a seven-year-old but with Bach, you really can. You can start that process. You grow up with it and it becomes part of your DNA.

“The cello suite is almost like a choir on a single instrument. There are so many things that it implies. You then spend your life trying to find out what they are. There is always more to discover and you never stop discovering.

“If you play something like Dvorak or Rachmaninov, however sublime it is, you can play it 20 or 30 times and you will still be finding new things, but you will start to feel that you know it, that you have got it.

“But with Bach that is never the case. Every time I come back to it, it feels like the first time or you are thinking ‘How did I miss that last time?’ You realise that you never stop. You never arrive at a point where you think ‘I know how to play this now.’”

There is something similar with Beethoven and with Mozart too: “But all the contemporary composers look to Bach whether it is jazz or classical. They always look to Bach for that amazing mathematical discipline in his writing… such mathematical discipline and yet the result is so pure. You can see such beautiful poetry being achieved through the science of maths.

“Bach composed in a different way to Dvorak or Rachmaninov. Bach is much more about the relationship of one harmony to another. The best way to explain it is that some music is vertical and some music is horizontal and just follows the line.

“But vertical music, you just look at the whole score and it follows the colours of chords. That’s what Bach does. He takes chords and breaks them up. He creates these beautiful textures with them.

“It is not something that you will go down the street singing, but it will always make you feel good. And with Bach, that’s the ultimate goal, through the most amazing mathematical discipline, you achieve the most simple outcome.”

The Bach is part one of a double day at the Festival of Chichester for Pavlos.

On the same day, in the same venue (Sunday, June 16, 7.30pm), he returns in the evening to offer A Mediterranean Serenade with his group Plastikes Karekles.

The internationally-acclaimed Greek bouzouki band returns to St John’s Chapel after a spectacular event at Halnaker in 2018, bringing traditional and rebetiko songs from their vast repertoire: songs of simple situations, sad or happy moments, pain, poverty and exile.

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