It may have seemed a less than inauspicious opening for maverick Viennese cellist Peter Hudler, when a string snapped during his first number. However, the affably unassuming, T-shirted figure hurried to the back, restrung, retuned and returned to a sympathetic round of applause.
Cello on Fire, C too, St Columba’s by the Castle (Venue 4) ****
A cellist whose repertoire ranges from Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing to gems of the Italian Baroque, mingled with sometimes challenging contemporary or folk-inspired material, is bound to make for an interesting recital.
In contrast to the opening (and repeated) Hendrix piece, a loosely structured improvisation on bowed, plucked and slapped strings, with bluesy riffs and glissandi, Hudler gave us a beautifully warm-toned, Bach-like capriccio by the 18th-century Giovanni Dall’Abaco and a piece by the contemporary Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, all spooky drones, slides and harmonics.
In the middle of it all, incongruous but beautifully wistful, was the 18th-century Scottish air Prince Charles’s Last View of Scotland, although the following Celtic Cello set tended to churn up its constituent jigs and reels.
Hudler closed with two striking contemporary pieces. A klezmer-inspired film score by New Yorker John Zorn proved resonantly eloquent and lingering, then Giovanni Sollima’s Lamentatio had the cellist vocalising hauntingly along with his instrument.
One cavil might be that even a basic printed programme could have helped us identify the lesser-known composers, whose names could be hard to catch in Hudler’s introductions. However, it was an intriguing programme in a fine acoustic space, and Hudler made the most of it.
• Until 27 August, 7:40pm