Sonia Cromarty

Sonia Cromarty

Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow

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Michael Tumelty

DAY one of the Cottier Chamber Project's 10-concert series of free lunchtime events focusing exclusively on the unaccompanied cello and violin music by Bach; and already one can say this: what a cracking idea.

The series, launched yesterday by Aberdeen-born freelance cellist Sonia Cromarty, is being staged in the Hunterian Art Gallery's Enlightenment Collection, which is a beautiful, small, but spacious area that looks entirely appropriate for the 50 or so people you might expect to turn out for such an event.

Ha! It was packed out with 100 people, the maximum-allowed capacity of the room, in fact.

But because of the overall spaciousness of the gallery there was no loss of reverberation, intimacy or the impact of Sonia Cromarty's sound in a fluid and engaging interpretation of the First Cello Suite - one of the most perfect of all musical compositions to my mind.

Cromarty's characterful, but non-indulgent performance of a piece whose neck is so frequently wrung by cellists seeking some sort of nirvana of expressiveness, played equally on the muscular and soulful qualities of the music.

Above all, she kept it moving, with a nice bounce to the rhythmic dances, and a lovely, almost wry, touch in the minor key section of the Minuet. Even in the slow, intense Sarabande, stasis is only apparent, not real; even at its slowest pace the music is still on the move, though that sense of movement can seem almost imperceptible.

An excellent start to an intelligent and enterprising venture. Today, the BBC SSO's Tom Rathbone moves in at 1.10pm to play the Second Cello Suite, in D minor.