WORKS: Cello Suites, BWV 1007 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012
PERFORMER: Yo-Yo Ma (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: SM2K 89754 ADD Reissue (1983)
Yo-Yo Ma’s 1983 survey of Bach’s Cello Suites returns at mid-price. If you’re new to these masterpieces, or just need to add them to your collection without serious expenditure, these accounts probably won’t disappoint. ‘Inspired by Bach’, Ma’s gimmicky 1998 remake, was a broad-based collaboration involving several non-musical disciplines, like dance and design. It proved less successful in overall musical terms, but might be interesting in its recently released DVD format.
Ma’s earlier traversal brings direct, unfussy modernist interpretations. They’re muscular, crisply etched performances, though Ma’s super-smooth style often glosses over a wealth of detailing that usually makes authentic realisations strongly compelling, particularly where ornamentation, articulation and phrasing are concerned. If you want the best of both worlds, go for Pieter Wispelwey’s provocative 1998 Channel set. It does come at full price, however, but Anner Bylsma’s revelatory 1979 cycle (Sony) provides a fine budget alternative. Michael Jameson