Bach: Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007, 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012; Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004

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WORKS: Suites for Solo Cello, BWV 1007, 1008, 1009, 1010, 1011, 1012; Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004
PERFORMER: Alexander Rudin (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555992-93
A new recording of Bach’s six suites for unaccompanied cello faces formidable opposition from a wealth of legendary performances, some of which have held places in the league table for many decades. It must measure up to the passion of Casals (EMI), the nobility of Fournier (DG Archiv) and the athletic, lightly bowed gracefulness of Bylsma (Sony), to mention only three. Alexander Rudin’s playing is less markedly personal than these, and less idiosyncratic than Tortelier sometimes could be, yet he effortlessly communicates, through his own pleasing sensibilities, the poetry of these sophisticated and enduringly satisfying dance suites. Rudin’s bowing is lightly articulate, and his phrasing gently inflected. He is evidently a player who eschews anything in the nature either of aggressive or exaggerated gesture, and, in this respect, comes closer to Fournier than to the other names already cited. In other words, the personality does not come between the music and the listener. Perhaps on occasion I wished that he would be just a little more demonstrative, for there is a hint, every now and then, of prosaic, matter-of-fact playing. But it is only a very small issue when set against so much else that is honest, sensitive and musicianly. Lapses in intonation are few and far between, and Rudin’s tone is mellow and even. He plays a mid-18th-century instrument at a lower Baroque pitch for the first five suites and a five-stringed cello for the Sixth Suite. Though my first choice remains decisively with Fournier, Rudin’s set is likely to afford plenty of enjoyment to readers. Nicholas Anderson