Richard Jenkinson at New Guesten Hall, Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove by Christopher Morley
Richard Jenkinson is a cellist so much at one with his instrument. Like flautists, like guitarists, like tuba-players, cellists begin with the advantage of presenting such a persuasive visual image even before they start playing, but Jenkinson's relationship with his wooden artefact is really something special.
A packed Bromsgrove Festival -- and how successfully has this event taken a new turn of direction! -- lunchtime audience relished Jenkinson's presentation of Bach's First Cello Suite and Kodaly's Sonata, both composed for cello alone, and both sharing some amazing similarities across the centuries, not least the rustic qualities which Bach turns into elegance but which Kodaly mines for all their earthy worth.
Jenkinson's Bach was fluent and appropriately improvisatory in effect, delivered by a baroque bow, every repeat constantly alive, and with an ebb and flow of dynamics.
And his Kodaly was simply miraculous. This is a compendium of every cello technique imagined, and then some. It requires a tuning-down of the instrument's two lowest strings, not only increasing the range but also altering the natural resonance, it brings in folklore elements, it employs left-hand pizzicato to stunning effect, and it builds up an irrepressible emotional momentum which both composer and its performer here handled with the most convincing empathy.
Jenkinson has made a lengthy doctoral study of the work, and his spoken introduction made us eager in anticipation. But he referred to the importance of a once-banned Hungarian folksong being quoted; what a pity he didn't play it for us, so we could have listened out for it in performance.