Following the interval we were presented with a treat. A duet with violin and cello playing a modern piece by the Glasgow composer Martin Suckling, called ‘Nocturne’, which was originally commissioned in 2013 by Aldeburgh Music for a first peroformance at Snape Maltings, one of my old stomping grounds.
Morton explained that the composer was fond of finding “the notes between the keys” on a piano, the unusual, dissonant ones. Quite incredibly, when the piece was underway, he managed to make his instrument sound like a Tuvan throat singer in places. A memorable, guttural sound that resonates deeply. Not sure how he did it, but it was surely an awesome sound.
Throughout the piece, violin and cello fused as one, with the violin creating an imagined resonance of the cello. This resonance becomes richer and more complex, as each verse passes, until eventually the violin soars high into a kind of birdsong. Their contrasting tunes are played with the two instruments remaining bound together until the end, the cello repeating a lullaby melody, while the violin circles singing overhead.
I always admire the bravery of introducing new music within a more accessible concert. It is a good way to get such music to a wider audience and for the sheer technical brilliance of playing such a piece to be fully appreciated.
Following the melancholy tryst of the Mozart, with its largely downbeat feel, often using dissonance for effect, it was fascinating to see how a modern composer tackled an emotional theme. There were moments when hairs on the back of the neck tingled with delight. Again the playing was exceptional and enthralling.
the Suckling Nocturne still haunts the memory
— Jeff Merrifield