Offering up a nuanced opener are brothers Sebastian Selke and Daniel Selke AKA CEEYS. Having grew up in East Berlin during the final decade of the GDR, the pair perform ‘Union’ and ‘Fall’ – just two examples of how their craft is provoked by their urge to explore recollections of their youth, both before and after the fall of the regime, and to apply those lessons and influences to contemporary music. With tastefully chosen archive imagery from East Berlin projected on a panoramic screen in the background, the former piece proves a masterclass in restraint, bolstered by paced and colourful flourishes by the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin.
Briefly addressing tonight’s capacity crowd in English, Sebastian Selke on cello alludes to how, at least in terms of discussing it, the backdrop of place is inextricable from CEEYS’ music. “We come from the East and that’s why we speak in German,” he says. “Sorry to all the native Americans that are here.” Though the sparse marriage of piano and cello on ‘Union’ holds elegiac weight, ‘Fall’ is the highlight. A dual reference to the fall of the wall and the season, it unravels from insistent piano stabs (think LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ viewed through a pastoral lens) before shivering vibrato phrases guide the piece to its peaceful conclusion.
“Zanzibar” by CEEYS
[41:35 – 45:39]
It’s an extraordinary piece of music. It’s a work of two brothers, Sebastian on cello and Daniel on piano, and together they play as CEEYS. I saw them premiere tracks from their new album at Neue Meister modern classical gig that I went to very recently in Berlin. This is a project, which is actually dedicated to their parents and it is written about the streets and the buildings that surrounded them in their childhood, growing up on the streets of East Berlin. From their record, this is a very beautiful fragile tender piece called “Zanzibar”.
Mary Anne Hobbs
BBC 6 Music
BBC 6 Music