Bach: Cello Suites Nos 1-6
Jan Vogler is a seasoned cellist, and has no doubt thought carefully about his interpretative approach. Yet I remain baffled by some of his decisions. On the plus side he performs on the fabulous ‘ex-Castelbarco-Fau’ Strad, which sounds in this recording warmly resonant, clear and true. Vogler takes a robust, modern but not overly-projected approach. When he’s good, he’s very good: Suite No. 3 in C’s first Bourée and Gigue are delightfully unaffected, most of the Courantes are fleet and crisp and, best of all, the mighty Suite No. 6 in D major has a fine sense of buoyant, jesting spirit. It’s as if the discipline needed for that most challenging set focuses his musicianship.
In contrast, the Suite No. 2 in D minor is exceptionally wayward. Every bar of the Prelude is distorted by obtrusive rubato, as is the Allemande in which all sense of pattern or metre is lost. The Preludes in Suites Nos 1 (G major) and 3 (C major) are bright and fluent, yet suffer from Vogler’s bowing, his fussy bow changes occasionally breaking up phrases in the C major. He emphasises the physical awkwardness of Suite No. 4’s E flat Prelude by lingering heavily on each first note, with an inevitable loss of momentum. The mysterious C minor Suite No. 5 takes wing, but, again, lacks contrast: Sarabandes need to act as a central still point, but Vogler’s are relatively swift, too similar in speed to the ensuing dances. A puzzling set.