Jacqueline Cole’s piano recital at St John’s Smith Square, on 25 September 2002 was a revealing one, not only in her chosen repertoire, featuring suppressed composers, but of her own tremendous resources of musicianship and artistry.
Her programme began with the world premier of Svetislav Bozic’s Byzantine Moziac, nine sketches dedicated to the jubilee celebrations of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Great Britain. As approachable as the music was, I found it overly long, its sentiments, as varied as they were, driven by stylistic devices more akin to writing from the early 20th century than the beginning of the 21st. If this was pastiche, then it was very good, though, if anything, it confirmed Cole as a consummate performer. I found Pavel Haas’s 1935 Suite Opus 13 much more interesting. Cole’s stunning pianism sculpted the work with great finesse.
Beethoven’s Sonata Opus 10 was attacked with a precision that amounted to great style, Cole’s fluid technique bringing beautiful results from the dissonance of the second movement’s suspended chords and freshness and vigour to the whole.
Viktor Ullmann’s Seventh Sonata was a poignant conclusion to the recital. Written in the dreadful circumstances of the Terezin concentration camp, its sense of musical autobiography served to remind us that the creative ability to transcend such an abject state is a strong force within the human condition. Cole’s powerful insight drew us into this cauldron of horror, its introspective depth ultimately triumphing over adversity.