Tom Hicks at Stokesley Methodist Church

BUSONI'S transcription of Bach’s Chaconne opened Tom Hick’s recital at this Classical Cleveland event. It is a grippingly solemn, almost physically moving piece, with the the right hand sending a shower of sparkling notes around the theme carried on the left hand and finishing with a tremendous running flourish.

It provided the youthful Hicks with a dramatic introduction to his programme – the audience was transfixed.

The recital was well balanced, with the eternally relevant music of Beethoven’s Sonata in E op. 109 following the Chaconne.

The Sonata in E, in three highly contrasting movements, demonstrates Beethoven’s technique of mixing themes and again Hicks’s expressed this beautiful sonata most effectively.

Hicks explained that he likes to think that the next item – Island Spell, by John Ireland – was written while the composer was gazing across the sea to Guernsey, Hicks’s home island. It was certainly conceived whilst Ireland was in the Channel Islands. Watery ripples, surging waves, church bells across water are all magically invoked in this brief, beautiful work.

The final piece, Sonata no.1 by Shchedrin, might have been composed by “Shostakovich on acid” commented Hicks, and certainly it was something ferociously beautiful, a scary, staccato, speedy piece, threateningly repetitive in the first movement, morphing into a stealthy, stalking pace with steadily mounting volume before again diminishing. It finished with some very rapid keyboard work over the full range - an amazing piece of contemporary music.

Hicks’s expertise is wide-ranging. He is a skilled accompanist and chamber musician as well as an active conductor and co-founder of the Guernsey-based modern music ensemble, Terra Nova. Currently studying on the joint ‘Masters’ course at the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University under Murray McLachlan, he has won a place at the prestigious Yale University School of Music to study under Boris Berman starting in September.

The next Classical Cleveland recital in Stokesley Methodist Church is on June 4 at 1.30pm featuring guitar virtuoso Christian Sagesse. Tickets £6 from Brown's Newsagents, Stokesley (£7 at the door).

Irene MacDonald