WORKS: Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007-12
PERFORMER: Peter Bruns (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-176/7
This is the third Bach traversal of recent months. Janos Starker’s new RCA set, sometimes unforgivably idiosyncratic, came as a major disappointment after his exploratory Sixties Mercury cycle. Starker’s belief that ‘authentic Baroque practices dampen the 20th century’s expectations, let alone the 21st century’s dreams’ sustained another credibility dent when Jaap Ter Linden’s exceptionally fine period performances arrived from Harmonia Mundi. Now there’s Peter Bruns, on Opus 111, whose Brahms sonatas disc with Olga Tverskaya aroused mixed critical response.
Bruns’s Bach occupies stylistic middle- ground; some of it is convincing, and vibrato (where applied) is never excessive. Playing a 1730 Tononi cello, Bruns goes for laser-edged textural clarity, often at hair-raising speeds; the D minor Allemande (2:59 as compared to Starker’s 4:08, and Ter Linden’s 3:51) is only fractionally slower than Rostropovich’s absurdly quick EMI romp, and it’s to Slava’s controversial Bach that Bruns seems to have turned in researching his performances. Sarabandes could otherwise have been more stately and reflective; Courantes might have possessed real grandeur, and the whole experience could have been less of a roller-coaster ride and more like the renewing spiritual journey explored by others in this music. In sum, pretty mediocre and unfulfilling: best avoided unless you’re after Formula 1 Bach. Michael Jameson