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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
Cello Suites [63.12]
No. 1 in G major BWV 1007
No. 2 in G major BWV 1008
No. 3 in G major BWV 1009
John Friesen, cello
Rec: September, October 1996, Mushroom Studios, Vancouver, Canada.
SONO RECORDS SONO10562 [63.12]


Bach's cello suites are arguably the greatest works ever written for solo cello. Recorded by any cellist worth his salt, these works contain some of the most poignant and emotional music Bach ever wrote. John Friesen performs these works on a very attractive-sounding instrument, which has a deep, rich bass, and wonderful resonance. This is clearly a "big" sound - undoubtedly not a baroque instrument (no information is given in the notes), but one that is tastefully recorded.

Each of these suites opens with a prelude that should be improvisatory in nature. But Friesen seems a bit too stuck in the rhythm of the score, and plays these preludes far too strictly - the notes all seem to be played on the beat; there is no freedom here. He seems much freer in the allemandes and sarabandes, where one can hear a certain amount of emotion comes through, but at times, such as in the allemande of the 3rd suite, his tone is off occasionally.

While Friesen shows more control in the faster movements, such as the courantes and gigues, there is still an overall lack of flexibility that prevents the music from truly developing.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of direction in this recording. The tempi are too often wooden and rigid, the bowing sounds forced, and the music seems to be hidden behind the notes. There is little to be said for this disc, and listeners who want to discover these works would be much better off listening to such brilliant performances as those of Anner Bylsma or Peter Wispelwey.

Kirk McElhearn


www.johnfriesen.com


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