Bach: Suites for Solo Cello BWV 1007, 1008 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Sony Classical
WORKS: Suites for Solo Cello BWV 1007, 1008 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012
PERFORMER: Anner Bylsma (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: S2K 48047 DDD
It is thought that Bach’s Suites for solo cello were written between 1717 and 1723, at about the same time as his works for solo violin, but no original manuscript remains. The cello suites are less flamboyant than the violin works, so present the greater challenge in communication; like Shakespeare’s texts, understanding depends on the subtlest of phrasing, rhythm and intonation.

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The Dutch baroque cellist Anner Bylsma brings to this new set (he recorded the suites 11 years ago for RCA Seyon) a remarkable range of expression – vigorous, playful, impetuous and elegant, with extraordinarily fine articulation and elasticity of phrasing within the framework of each movement. Bylsma here records on one of Stradivarius’ great cellos, the ‘Servis’ dating from 1701, which is an extremely rare example of the ‘bassetti’, a large instrument 3 cm longer than the modern cello. For this recording, he uses a plain gut A string, with the three lower strings metal-overspun, which gives a particularly full, muscular sound, unusual for a baroque instrument.

This very fine recording (using ‘20-bit’ technology to produce ‘high-definition sound’) is sadly marred by excessively close miking which amplifies every inhalation and sound on the fingerboard.

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Annette Morreau