REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Bojan Čičić, Part 2, York Early Music Christmas Festival, 17/12/2022

Bojan Čičić: “The prospect of his playing Bach’s three solo partitas was irresistible”

York Early Music Christmas Festival: Bojan Čičić, Part 2, JS Bach Partitas, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 17

IT was never my intention to cover both Bojan Čičić recitals, but so compelling was the first – Bach’s solo violin sonatas on December 10 – that the prospect of his playing Bach’s three solo partitas was irresistible.

The partitas are essentially suites of dances. In addition, each of the four dances of Partita No 1 in B minor is followed by a ‘Double’. Common in French harpsichord suites, a double is a variation on the dance it partners, usually twice or three times as fast as the original. Thus, after the Corrente (Courant), there is a double marked Presto. Čičić took this at an incredible pace, showcasing his daring virtuosity.

In the Sarabande that followed his triple-stopping was chordal and deliberate, with an arpeggiated double to follow: in its way, this was as breath-taking as the Corrente.

No 2 in D minor was no less striking. After an intimate Allemanda, with fluent ornamentation, the different registers of the Corrente were strongly differentiated, so that we sensed three simultaneous lines.

The Giga was another dazzler. The concluding chaconne started innocently enough, but built into some fearsome runs, which were despatched nonchalantly. In the middle of all this was a D major interlude of teasing suspensions.

The pastoral No 3 in E major was a gentler affair. Its well-known Gavotte was positively bouncy, its two minuets exquisitely graceful and its final Gigue (offshoot of the original English jig) brilliantly steady. This unassuming virtuoso had worked his magic again.

Review by Martin Dreyer

YORK Early Music Christmas Festival 2022 is streaming online until January 31 2023 at, at £10 per concert or £45 for all seven festival concerts recorded at the NCEM.