Review: Teenage cellist offers mature concert performance

By M.L. RANTALA
Classical Music Critic

Cellist Lucie Ticho

Cellist Lucie Ticho

Lucie Ticho is a talented cellist from the Chicago suburbs about to embark on the next big step in her career. In the fall she will begin a joint program at Columbia and Juilliard and this summer she will travel to Europe with the National Youth Orchestra of the U.S. Saturday night she gave a concert for family, friends, and the public at Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago (19th and Michigan).

This teenage musician is one to watch. She plays with maturity, technical assurance and beautiful phasing.

She also had the opportunity to perform a world premiere, Chicago composer and conductor Kim Diehnelt’s “Wintram.” It was a smashing success for cellist and composer alike.

Diehnelt spoke briefly to the audience about the composition, with the intriguing note that she composes as if she were a playwright, creating characters and stories. But there is no elucidation of these, the enigma for the performer and listener is to tease these elements out from the manuscript page.

Ticho was splendid in doing so. “Wintram” opens with a dark, soulful melody that the cellist rendered with dignity and rich sound. She gave urgent animation to the agitated passages and seemed to wholly inhabit the quiet introspective sections. It was a beautiful composition, beautifully played.

Ticho also performed a Chicago premiere: David Froom’s “Shades of Red” a three-minute work commissioned by an American string competition. Froom heard Ticho perform the work at the competition and described her playing as “astonishing.” What was particularly exemplary about the performance was that there are sections of prolonged intensity where the cellist found the right times to briefly relax the sound, adding depth and texture.

Ticho opened her concert with the Preludio-Fantasia from Gaspar Cassado’s Suite for Cello Solo. She created warm, ethereal sound, like stars singing from above.

Prokofiev’s March from “Music for Children” had singing tone and just the right amount of playfulness. Ticho also gave a frisky and engaging performance of the Courante from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6. She closed her concert with “Alone” by Giovanni Sollima, at one moment haunting and at another excited and joyful.

While only about a hour (with intermission), this concert was a satisfying introduction to a young musician who looks to be on the verge of a marvelous career.

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A devastating fire at Shrine of Christ the King at 64th and Woodlawn on Oct. 7, 2015 threatened the future of this Catholic church. The damage was extensive so that repairing the structure looked to be very expensive. Local residents worked hard to convince Catholic authorities not to destroy the building and now the church is on the slow road to costly renovation and the fundraising this requires.

While the church is being restored, services are being held in the gym of the nearby First Presbyterian Church of Chicago (6400 S. Kimbark). And not only that. Regular free concerts previously held at Christ the King are now conducted at First Presbyterian.

I attended one of these concerts, presented by the Amadeus Consort, last month. The Amadeus Consort specializes in music of the Baroque and early Classical period with this particular concert featuring Stephen Alltop on harpsichord, Pascal Innocenti on baroque violin, Isabelle Rozendall on baroque violin and tenor viola da gamba, and John Tuck on double bass and baroque cello.

All four players took on Fransesco Geminiani’s arrangement of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, offering a pert interpretation with shiny sound from the violins and stylish playing in the bass.

Haydn’s Divertimento in B-flat found Alltop, Innocenti, and Tuck creating pretty interplay between the instruments creating a light and airy atmosphere.

The husband and wife team of Innocenti and Rozendall joined forces for Teleman’s Canonic Sonata for two violins. This work features exactly the same music for each violin, with the second violin beginning one measure after the first. There were interesting, unexpected harmonies and duo made the music attractive.

Giovani Battista Mazzaferrata’s Trio Sonata had robust sound from all four members of the ensemble, with the largo particularly alluring.

Alltop was soloist for Haydn’s Harpsichord Sonata in G-Major. He had clarity of articulation, pleasing ornaments, and exciting pacing. The middle movement was notable for its elegance.

The Fantasias Nos. 1 and 2 for two viols had delicate sound and the concluding work on the program, Handel’s Trio Sonata Op. 2, No. 6 in G minor was a powerful way to end the concert.

The next free concert of the Amadeus Consort is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago (6400 S. Kimbark). Another free concert takes place on Jun. 12 at the same time and place.