All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Solo II (Tabea Zimmermann)

Tabea Zimmermann (violin) (Myrios)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Solo II
JS Bach: Cello Suites Nos 3 & 4 (arr. violin); Kurtág: Games, Signs & Messages
Tabea Zimmermann (violin)
Myrios MYR026   52:47 mins


The viola player Tabea Zimmermann speculates that Bach’s Cello Suites, the third and fourth of which are recorded here, might have been performed on the contemporary violoncello piccolo or the viola da spalla, attached by a strap to the front of the body. Bach himself was not excessively purist when it came to adapting his works and, when all is said and done, it is the quality of the performing that counts.

Zimmermann’s playing is profoundly thoughtful, leading to flawlessly structured readings. Prime examples are the Preludes to both suites: each has an underlying logic illuminating the music’s fundamental line of development amid the abundant figuration, resulting in performances of great cumulative power. The dance movements are elegant, but not to the exclusion of humour; the Allemandes, Bourrées and Gigues communicate clear earthy enjoyment. Perhaps most remarkable is Zimmermann’s breathtakingly skilful performance of the Sarabandes in which the differentiation of detail within a contrapuntal texture sounds almost as if two instruments are playing.

Sandwiched between the Bach suites is a gathering of six pieces by György Kurtág written for a number of the composer’s musical friends. They are highly emotional in character and fearsomely difficult to play. The contrasts are extreme, ranging from aggression in ‘A quarrel chromatically’, through elusive delicacy in ‘A flower for Tabea’ to a richly moving Hungarian ‘In nomine’ by way of conclusion.

Superbly recorded in a richly resonant ambience, this is an unusual and compelling release.

Read more reviews of the latest Bach recordings here

Read more reviews of the latest Kurtág recordings here


Jan Smaczny