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Cymbeline by DAVID BRUCE


Cymbeline is a new work for Mandolin and String Quartet, written specially for mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital. The title is an old Celtic word meaning Lord of the Sun. I think the idea of the piece being about the sun emerged out of the colours of the string quartet and the mandolin together. Although I don't think of myself as a synaesthetic person I kept having a strong sense of the colour gold in the early sketches for the piece. The mandolin itself has always seemed to me to create a 'golden' sound, and when combined with the warmth of the strings it seems now obvious that I should drawn towards something warm and golden.

The sun was one of the first objects of worship and it has been surmised that the idea of a holy trinity (found not just in Christianity, but in numerous earlier religions) relates to the three distinct positions of the sun - sunrise (=father), noon (=son), and sunset (=spirit). Sunrise is 'the father of the day'; midday represents the fullness of energy, the son; and sunset is a time for contemplation and reflection - the spirit. To me, these three states represent not just "father, son and spirit" but also perhaps, the reflection upon an action about to happen (sunrise), the action itself (noon), and the reflection on the action that happened (sunset).

Cymbeline accordingly is in three movements, with two contemplative outer movements surrounding an energetic central movement. I see the piece as a contemplation of our relationship with this firey giver of life, whose significance to us is often overlooked in the modern world, but who still really does rule over us all.

1. Sunrise
2. Noon
3. Sunset

David Bruce 15 Feb 2013

The composer with Avi Avital after the premiere of Cymbeline

Press / Latest Reviews

Canberra Times / Apr 2018
Jennifer Gall

For me the highlight of the evening was David Bruce's Cymbeline for mandolin and string quartet, composed in 2013. His cleverly constructed first movement, Sunrise, established the separation of instrument registers and created spacious sonorities. Bruce's music tells us immediately that he understands the value of every instrumental voice for whom he is writing. He is a master of rhythmic patterning and builds dramatic tension by throwing rhythmic hooks to catch our imagination and snare our expectations. / Apr 2018
Christopher Wainwright

A work which stunningly captures the sound and energies of dawn, noon and dusk

Limelight Magazine / Apr 2018
Angus McPherson

The final work on this program with the Giocoso Quartet, David Bruce's 2013 Cymbeline - the name a Celtic word meaning Lord of the Sun - explored similar heat-haze textures to those of Vivaldi's Summer. Across three movements that charted the sun's course from Sunrise to Noon and finally Sunset, the music emerges out of the silence with a mandolin tremolo. Bruce's work was shot through with pizzicato grooves from the cello, a harder-edged hoedown energy under the noonday sun, while the sunset of the finale was more wistful than meditative, the music receding once more into a fade-out

Financial Times / Apr 2014
George Loomis

David Bruce’s Cymbeline for mandolin and string quartet (written for Avital last year), a vibrant piece with a golden hue that finds much sonic variety in the instrumental combination

New York Times / Jan 2014
Vivien Schweitzerj

Mr. Avital’s engaging Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall on Friday featured another new piece, David Bruce’s colorful “Cymbeline” for Mandolin and String Quartet, given its New York debut here with the Enso String Quartet.

Cymbeline is Celtic for “lord of the sun”; according to the program book, Mr. Bruce was inspired by “the seemingly golden color palette” of the blend of mandolin and strings. In “Noon,” the second of three movements, Mr. Avital plucked and strummed energetically during what sometimes sounded like a vigorous, folk-tinged jam session. “Sunrise” and “Sunset,” the enigmatic outer movements, unfolded with elusive gestures and Middle Eastern harmonies, a long, eerie melody unfurling on the viola in the final movement.


for Mandolin and String Quartet
(or Mandolin and String Ensemble)

1 Mandolin
2 Violins
1 Viola
1 Cello

Duration c.20mins
Composed Sept 2012-Feb 2013
First performance The Auditorium of TSRI, San Diego
Commissioned by Co-commissioned by San Diego Symphony and Metropolis Ensmeble
Dedicated to Roni and Avi, in honour of their recent marriage


Past Performances

  • May 21 2013
    The Auditorium at TSRI, San Diego (Avi Avital, San Diego Symphony Chamber Series) (world premiere)

  • Aug 18 2013
    Bode Museum, Berlin (Avi Avital, Rahel Rilling et al.)

  • Jan 17 2014
    Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall (Avi Avital)

  • Apr 1 2014
    Savannah Festival, Georgia (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet)

  • Apr 6 2014 5pm
    Le Poisson Rouge, NYC (Metropolis Ensemble, Avi Avital) (World premiere, string ensemble version)

  • Apr 7 2014 6pm
    Le Poisson Rouge, NYC (Metropolis Ensemble, Avi Avital)

  • Aug 13 2014
    Mariae Himmelfahrt, Hallgarten, Germany (Avi Avital, Ensemble Mediterrain)

  • Mar 28 2015
    Rome University music series (Sapienza) (Avi Avital)

  • May 12 2015
    Tel Aviv Museum of Art (Avi Avital, Danish String Quartet)

  • May 16 2015
    Rappoport Hall, Haifa, ISRAEL, (Avi Avital, Danish String Quartet)

  • Jul 3 2015
    Torgauer Orgelnacht, Germany (Avi Avital, Vogler Quartet)

  • Jul 26 2015
    Verbier Festival (Avi Avital, Sascha Sitkovetsky, David Carpenter Edgar Moreau)

  • Sep 28 2015
    Evangelische Kirche, Homburg, Germany (Avi Avital, Vogler Quartet)

  • Nov 15 2015
    Helmstedt, Germany (Avi Avital, Vogler Quartet)

  • Feb 13 2016
    Wolfsburg, Germany (Avi Avital, Kuss Quartet)

  • May 4 2016
    Kennedy Center, Washington (Enso String Quartet, Avi Avital)

  • Jul 17 2016
    Schubertiade, Hohenems, Austria (Avi Avital, Kuss Quartet)

  • Aug 26 2016
    Festival Paesaggi Musicali, Tuscany (Avi Avital)

  • Nov 22 2016
    Burghasen, Germany (Avi Avital, Kuss Quartet)

  • Dec 6 2016
    Walton Arts Center, Arkansas (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet)

  • Feb 7 2016
    Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet)

  • Feb 11 15 2017
    Royal Conservatory, Toronto & live stream (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet) (Canadian Premiere)

  • Feb 17 2017
    Conrad Prebys Hall UCSD, San Diego (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet)

  • Feb 18 2016
    Oregon Bach Festival (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet)

  • Feb 19 2017
    Vancouver Playhouse (Avi Avital, Dover Quartet )

  • Jul 8 2017
    Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Avi Avital, Vision String Quartet)

  • Dec 4 2017
    Kuss Quartet (Avi Avital)

  • Apr 7 2018 2pm
    Sydney City Recital Hall (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 9 2018
    Sydney City Recital Hall (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 11 2018
    Brisbane (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 12 2018
    Newcastle, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 14 2018
    Melbourne, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 17 2018
    Adelaide, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 19 2018
    Canberra, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 21 2018
    Perth, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • Apr 24 2018
    Melbourne Recital Center, Mebourne, Australia (Avi Avital & Giocoso String Quartet)

  • May 3 2018
    Boulez Saal, Berlin (Avi Avital, Giocoso String Quartet)

Related Posts

 • Avi Avital/Dover Quartet US Tour (2/7/2017)
 • Fragile Light Premiere (12/17/2014)
 • Savannah 2014 (4/12/2014)
 • Avi at Carnegie (1/9/2014)
 • Good times in San Diego (5/24/2013)


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