> JS Bach - Cello Suites 1, 2, 3 [KM]: Classical Reviews- June 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Cello Suites 1, 2, 3
No. 1 in G major BWV 1007
No. 2 in G major BWV 1008
No. 3 in G major BWV 1009
Jiri Barta, cello
Rec: November 1995, Castle Kozel.
SUPRAPHON SU 3242-1 131 [56.53]
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It is a commonplace to say that the very first notes of a disc set the stage for the remainder of the recording, but for music like this, suites for solo cello, it is all the more true. The unique sound of the cello alone is so poignant that the first notes that come out of the silence have a great effect. This recording of Bach’s cello suites is a good example of how important these notes are. Barta’s sound for the prelude of the first suite is soft and round, subtle and free, and his approach can be clearly heard in these first measures. Neither pushing too hard nor letting go too much, he strives to achieve a balance in his playing.

Barta’s phrasing is clear and unambiguous. He plays each melodic section as a separate breath, using noticeable pauses to delineate them. This sounds interesting at times, but in the allemande of the second suite, for example, his playing loses a bit of fluidity because of this. Nevertheless, the overall impression of his playing is certainly one of mellow smoothness.

The menuets of the second suite begin with some slightly out of tune playing, and this disturbs, especially after journeying with Barta through the first few movements of this suite which he plays very well. But in the gigue, he seems at odds with the rhythm; he is clearly more comfortable with the slower rhythms of the allemandes and sarabandes than these fast movements. This gigue sounds as though he is trying to fit its rhythm into something different, and it is not successful.

The sound of his cello is very nice, and the recording excellent. This is a very good recording of the first three cello suites, which, in spite of some imperfections, deserves attention. While not the best recording of these works, it is a herald of a long and interesting career by a young cellist.

Kirk McElhearn

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