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

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: John Marks
WORKS: Six Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007, 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012
PERFORMER: Nathaniel Rosen (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: JMR 6/7 DDD (distr. May Audio)
Nathaniel Rosen brings to this performance a fine cello – a Montagnana of 1738 – and an awesome technique. So in the Sixth Suite, written for a five-string instrument, the pulse of the dances is bent but never broken to accommodate the multiple-stopped chords. Intonation in the Sarabande (for me, the loveliest movement of all 36) is breathtakingly beautiful.

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But the recording is disappointing on two counts. The recorded sound is rather lustreless, and it so lacks audible ambience that a long gestural silence (in the Prelude of No. 2), doubtless effective when it can be seen, is unnerving rather than dramatic on disc.

Secondly, Rosen has an eccentric view of the pace of the Preludes which begin each suite. The free fantasia of No. 2, slower than any of the 26 versions I’ve previously heard (Building a Library, Dec 1993), loses the sense of harmonic direction implied within its single melodic line. The sixth is too slow to communicate its true spirit of a concerto in disguise. Most of the dances are light-footed enough, though their structure is violated by Rosen playing fast and loose with repeats.

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This disc is certainly worth hearing – but it doesn’t deflect me from Romantic Fournier and period Bylsma. George Pratt