‘Cello Unwrapped’ – Bach Through Time
Christophe Coin, cello & piccolo cello
Kings Place. 11 January 2017
Domenico Gabrielli: Ricercar No. 3 in D
JS Bach: Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008
Dall’Abaco: Capriccio No. 8 in G; Capriccio No. 6 in E minor (collage)
Bernhard Romberg: Praeludium in C minor
Félix Battanchon: Pièce caractéristique (Enterrement de Carnaval c1850)
JS Bach: Cello Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012 (performed on cello piccolo)
Following on from last years’ Baroque Unwrapped series of concerts, the latest in the Kings Place ‘Unwrapped’ series is devoted to the cello (see here). Included within that series are three concerts under the title of Bach Through Time, the first of which featured Christophe Coin playing solo cello – or, in this case, two solo cellos with three different bows. He opened with one of the very first compositions for solo cello, the third of Domenico Gabrielli’s Ricercars, a lively piece in the trumpet key of D major which included many triad fanfare motifs. This Gabrielli (no relation) was part of the rich musical foundation of the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna and also worked for the d’Este family in Moderna.
The first of two Bach Cello Suites followed, the 2nd, in D minor, also featuring triads in all its movements, despite have a rather dark overal mood. Coin played the opening Prélude in a beautifully exploratory and improvisatory manner before moving on to the more steady rhythms of the following dance movements. He concluded the evening with the brighter D major Suite (No 6) with its more organised opening Prélude. This is a problematical Suite in that it is not clear what instrument it was intended for. Coin used a Piccolo Cello, slightly smaller than his other cello and with an extra treble string aided the high register’s of Bach’s writing. Other possibilities are the Viola di Spalla, a small cello played accross the body strapped to the shoulder (pictured with Sigiswald Kuijken), or a Viola Pomposa. Coin’s playing of the elegaic melodic line of the Allemande over occasional chords was particularly effective. In the other movements he emphasised the folk-like aspect of the Suite.
He preceded the final Bach with an unprogrammed addition, György Kurtág’s Kroo Gyorgy in memoriam from Signs, Games and Messages, played in memory of Coin’s friend, the cellist Heinrich Schiff who died just before Christmas. The increasingly higher sequence of descending scales are requested to be played so as to be ‘almost inaudible’, producing an evocative effect in the hall, despite coughs and programme rattling from several in the audience who hadn’t quite grasped the moment.
After the first Bach Suite came a sequence of pieces from the Classical and Romantic era, played with classical and romantic bows respectively. A collage concocted from two of Joseph Dall’Abaco’s Capriccios was followed by Bernhard Romberg’s Praeludium in C minor and Félix Battanchon: Pièce caractéristique from Enterrement de Carnaval, c1850. Fascinating and virtuosic pieces showing the developement of cello playing in the 19th century.
Coin’s encore was from Bach’s E minor violin sonata, with several in the audience humming along with the missing continuo E.