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The Konzerthaus programme began with Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in D for strings and continued with Haydn's cello concerto, also in D. After the interval the first performance of 'Diversions for solo cello and string orchestra' was played by Benedict Kloeckner and conducted by Jordi Bernacer. The audience gave it a boisterous and lengthy ovation which culminated in an encore for which the two cellists in the orchestra joined Benedict in Howard's 3-cello piece 'Archangel's Lullaby'. The programme ended with a fine reading of Haydn's 'Farewell' symphony.
Howard Blake originally wrote 'Diversions' as a work for cello and piano in 1973, but in 1984 he was introduced to the great cellist Maurice Gendron who persuaded him to revise it into a concerto for cello and orchestra. Howard worked with him, first in his home in Grez-sur-Loing and later at the Ravel Festival in St. Jean de Luz, adding a new cadenza and finale. He completed the full orchestration in February 1985. Gendron had hoped to premiere it for the BBC at the Brighton Festival but was unable to do so due to ill-health from which he eventually died. In 1989 a premiere of the work was given by Steven Isserlis and the Royal Philharmonic conducted by Sir Charles Groves. In 1991 the work was recorded by Robert Cohen for Sony with the composer conducting The Philharmonia. The Strad commented: 'The dearth of repertoire for the solo cello should encourage more composers to write for the instrument. 'Diversions' is a welcome newcomer which could become an old friend. The eight movements all have an individual character, made more convincing by economic scoring in which each theme or effect is clearly defined. It is a bright, colourful, tuneful piece with tremendous rhythmic drive.' The form is a suite in eight sections: Prelude, Scherzo, March, Waltz, Aria, Serenade, Sarabande and Cadenza, Finale. In 2010 cellist and mentor Martin Rummel introduced the piano/cello version of the piece to Benedict Kloeckner as an interesting work with which to enter the EBU Young Musicians Prize. Generally players choose two or three contrasted works for such a competition, but since 'Diversions' contained such contrast within the eight movements he decided to perform the entire work and won first prize. Since then he has played it frequently with various pianists, including Howard Blake himself with whom he played it at the International Cello Festival in Kronberg. In July 2013 they are scheduled to record it for SWDR. Just over two years ago the composer heard Benedict and the Berlin Kammerorchester give a superb performance of the Schumann concerto in a new strings-only arrangement and it was this performance that inspired him to rework 'Diversions' for similar forces.