An uncompromising but compelling journey rewards close listening
The Strad Issue: November 2023
Description: An uncompromising but compelling journey rewards close listening
Musicians: Anton Lukoszevieze (cello)
Works: Sheen: Solo for Cello
Catalogue number: THE TRILOGY TAPES TTTCD001
Though it employs an unapologetically 21st-century vocabulary of rasps and whispers, there’s a lot to compare the half-hour, 12-section Solo for Cello by young Manchester-born composer and conductor Jack Sheen with a piece such as Paganini’s notorious Caprices. Both are breathtakingly virtuosic – in Sheen’s case, written specifically for contemporary cello guru Anton Lukoszevieze, who dispatches the work’s complex catalogue of rarefied sounds from a detuned, heavily muted instrument with unwavering commitment and insight. Both, too, devote their individual sections to in-depth explorations of particular techniques or musical motifs – which, in the case of Sheen’s twelve contrasting sections, very persuasively butt together nervy mechanical clickings with dense, rumbling harmonies and even lyrical melodic fragments, each considered and reappraised in hypnotic not-quite-repetitions. Both works, too, serve as musical celebrations of their solo instruments: here, the remarkable richness of sound of which a cello is capable, barely nodding towards conventional playing.
Concert review: Apartment House
Sheen’s work is strangely magical in its evocations, and toys mercilessly with perceptions of time and of noise versus music, but its twelve-part structure leads you on a deeply involving journey through instability and threat to eventual stillness. It’s a tough but rewarding listen from a composer who clearly has plenty to say that’s fresh and provocative; Lukoszevieze’s performance brilliantly reflects his very human struggles with this thorny material, in a close, authentic recording that captures every sonic nuance.