On 22 September Martin's Suckling's Nocturne for violin and cello featured as part of a Nonclassical event at St John's Waterloo. Gemma Bass and Peggy Nolan performed the 8-minute work as part of a programme entitled Dynamical Systems and Natural Environments curated by composer Simon Knighton, which also included works by Kaija Saariaho and Rolf Wallin.
The 8-minute piece received its premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2013 from Pekka Kuusisto and Peter Gregson. Two kinds of material alternate as the piece unfolds: a microtonally-inflected lullaby and a shadowy set of loops and dances. Throughout the piece the violin and cello are fused together, acting as a single instrument. As each verse of the piece passes their resonance becomes richer and more complex, and the violin escapes into birdsong-like figuration. Despite their now contrasting songs, the two instruments remain bound together until the end.
Nocturne was recorded by Jamie Campbell and Sébastien Van Kuijk on ‘The Tuning’, a disc of Suckling’s chamber music and song released through Delphian in January 2022. The disc, which also features performances by Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Christopher Glynn, and members of Aurora Orchestra, has been nominated this year for a Gramophone Award in the Contemporary category.
In 2016 The Scotsman called Nocturne, performed by the Scottish Ensemble, “understated but tremendously effective… piquant with spicy microtones, heavily perfumed, and given a spellbinding, assured performance, under appropriately dimmed lights”. “Beguiling stuff”, David Kettle concluded.