Bach: Cello Suites

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Bach – Solo Cello Suites
WORKS: Cello Suites
PERFORMER: Maria Kliegel
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557280-81
With 60-odd performances of this

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cellists’ rite of passage currently

available, each newcomer has to make

a mark in some striking way. Maria

Kliegel chooses a wayward passion

that does little to reflect either the

structures of the six Preludes, or

the style of Baroque dances in the

subsequent movements. She is a

fine technician, her intonation near

The authentic touch

william whitehead welcomes Gillian Weir’s latest disc

of Bach, recorded on the organ in the composer’s own church

gillian weir continues her acclaimed Bach organ series; helene grimaud finds a natural

pairing in Chopin and Rachmaninov; young pianist denis matsuev pays tribute to Horowitz impeccable even when using a fourstring

cello for the Sixth Suite, for

which Bach intended an extra top

string. So it is her artistic conviction

rather than any technical limitations

that lead her to constantly arrest the

rhythmic flow.

The dances are not functional

– no one danced to them. But many

a French dancing-master made

his living teaching German high

society the latest Parisian fashions.

Bach counted several among his

personal friends. For him, a key

characteristic of a French dance

remained its rhythmic character.

Only the outdated allemande was

open to more options in tempo and

flexibility, and Kliegel makes good

sense of the complex and highly

decorated sixth Allemande. The other

dances are irrationally unsteady. The

first Courante stops dead in midflow;

hardly two succeeding beats of

the third Sarabande are of the same

length; the fourth Bourrée loses its wit

and humour with unwanted pauses

for thought; the final Gigue becomes

a weird Witches Sabbath of 7/8 bars

as multiple-stopped chords delay the

pulse. A pizzicato repeat to the fifth

Sarabande only confirms Kliegel’s

determination to be different.

Jaap Ter Linden on Harmonia

Mundi remains the most convincing

period-instrument performer while,

for comparison with Kliegel on her

well-recorded modern cello, Antonio

Meneses’s recent Avie issue remains

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my benchmark. George Pratt