Richard Lambert Music

Adagio and Scherzo (Op.7)

A solo cello work where a dark, brooding Adagio leads to an energetic Scherzo

This piece for solo cello was composed for Aidan Hollick, who gave the first performance at The Royston Arts Festival in May 1983.

The dark brooding intensity of the C minor Adagio gives way to an unconventional Scherzo, set for the most part in common time, instead of the regular quick triple time.

The initial five-note motif pays tribute to Shostakovich, and recurs persistently in a variety of developed guises, gaining in intensity as the piece progresses.

There are numerous expressive interpolated reminders of the Adagio, and new scherzo motifs appear, pithy and rhythmic and always increasing the overall intensity.

Various cello techniques are used here: prominent use of open strings; pizzicato; tremolando; right-hand pizzicato; sul ponticello; and, in the last bar, a pianissimo descending motif which uses harmonics to bring the work to an unexpected conclusion.


  1. 15 May 1983 Royston Arts Festival, Royston church (Herts, UK), Aidan Hollick (cello)
  2. 17 May 1986 Royston Arts Festival, Royston church (Herts, UK), Marilyn Hosker (cello)
  3. 1 May 2010 Maytime Concert of Words and Music at St John’s Church, Batheaston, near Bath. Lesley Shrigley Jones (cello)


This recording of Adagio and Scherzo is of a performance by Lesley Shrigley Jones on 1 May 2010.


You can view and purchase the score of Adagio and Scherzo from Score Exchange.

If you wish to listen to the piece on that website, select the ‘MP3 file’ link instead of playing the embedded score for better audio quality.

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