Brighton Year-Round 2019
František Brikcius gave a cello recital playing Bach’s Solo Cello suite in D major BWV1012, and pieces Irina Kostikova, Fred Katz and James Simon.
František Brikcius, one of the greatest Czech Republic cellists arrived at St Nicholas to give a solo cello recital in two parts, and though the latter was all discovery, what he found in the Bach Solo Cello suite in D major BWV1012 made it new.
For a start there’s that ferocious dark graininess that gives Brikcius his distinction. I’ve heard no cellist who sounds like him. His sound digs hard and unveins some extraordinary, grainily detailed sonorities. The Sixth Suite has the greatest range and indeed was designed for a cello with an additional (fifth) A string at the top – basically it’s the second highest of the violinist and highest in the viola. That tells you how flung wide the sonority is – ascending the heaven of invention yet plunging vertiginously.
The Prelude’s freighted with a bi-tonal fleetness that soon moves into the contemplative Allemande, an eddying and stilling of the contraflow around the Prelude. The Courantes – literally running quavers – that follow allow more of a middle register, more typically baroque. The Sarabande with tis profundity and sweep across the compass of the five-string cello is the heart of the work, But it’s the two Gavottes we recognize as joyful and memorable, and the final Gigue really does jig.
Irina Kostikova is a composer unknown to most of us daughter of a famous cultural philosopher who survived Terezin – much of Brikcius’ music-making stems from his relationship with those who perished or occasionally survived the Holocaust. Kostikova’s Veselka for Solo Cello (2018) is a resolutely neo-tonal work that again ascends from a tenebrous shadowy existence through a melodic middle range to a tense affirmation in the high strings. Like many modern post-tonal works might have been written 100 years ago, but for certain harmonic shifts. It’s an absorbing work and I wanted to hear it straight over.
Fred Katz (1919-2013) might be known for – The Little Shop of Horrors. So the composer of ‘Feed Me!’ wrote much jazz-infused work and surprisingly this piece from the alter 1960s. ‘The Soldier Puppet’ – an ant-Vietnam war solo cellom piece. And that’s what it is, but seriously riven with harmonic shivers, a strong dark-thewed piece.
Finally James Simon 1880-1944 died in Auschwitz having visited his sister in Palestine. A supreme butter irony, a man who returned to Europe to hear his new opera performed. He’s not a composer from that slightly younger group who all perished the same way, and I confess I don’t know him. The cellist himself supplied details.
Earlier he’d visited his dying sister in Palestine. Arioso for Solo Cello (21/22 May 1929) is a densely-hued meditation and arrives at a pure-toned lament only after long struggle and bittered, consolatory fade.
A superb recital with unique material, played with distinctive authority.