Bach: Cello Suites, BWV 1007, 1008 & 1010 (arr. for lute)

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LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Cello Suites, BWV 1007, 1008 & 1010 (arr. for lute)
PERFORMER: Toyohiko Satoh (lute)
It seems likely that Bach actually wrote most of his lute music for the keyboard lute-harpsichord, which may explain why so much of it is virtually unplayable on the lute. However, he did write one piece for solo lute – BWV 995 is a transcription of his fifth cello suite, BWV 1011, and this example has inspired contemporary lutenists to make their own transcriptions of his other cello suites.


The change of instrument brings a fresh perspective to the music, with lutenists able to supply delicate traceries of detail where cellists can only sketch broadly. The lute’s guitar-like sound also imparts a folkish quality, particularly to the faster dances, which have a bright, crisp feel.


Toyohiko Satoh’s 14-course Baroque lute, strung entirely with gut, enhances this sound, as the gut adds a piquant tang to the higher pitches. His playing is exquisite, superb technique allied to astute musicality. Preludes have a requisite air of fantasy, minuets and gigues flow smartly, sarabandes become elegant reveries. Nigel North’s refined, mellow readings of these same suites have been the benchmark (Linn), but Satoh’s slightly more edgy and vivid set is no less lovingly crafted. I only hope he will record the remaining three suites too. Graham Lock