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Baroque Cello Illuminations - shedding new light on old favourites
Henry ECCLES JUNIOR (1675/85-1735/45) Sonata No.11 in g minor, second movement transcribed from Francesco Antonio BONPORTI (1672-1749) Op.10/4/iv) [7:41]
Willem de FESCH (1687-1757?) Sonata in d minor Op.8 No.3 [11:23]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) Sonata No.5 in e minor, RV40 [11:25]
François COUPERIN 'le Grand' (1668-1733) Pièces en Concert (from Les Goûts Réunis, arr. Paul BAZELAIRE (1886-1958) / Angela East)
Prélude [2:14]
Sicilienne [2:06]
La tromba [1:33]
Plainte [1:59]
Air de Diable [1:40]
Giuseppe (?) SAMMARTINI (1695-1750) / Martin BERTEAU (1700-1771) Sonata Op.1a No.3 in G major [14:00]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suite No.1 for solo cello in G major BWV1007* [19:40]
Angela East (baroque cello); Ruth Alford (baroque cello, continuo); Howard Beach (harpsichord)
rec. St John's Church, Loughton, Essex, UK, 17-19 May 2008, * François-Bernier Concert Hall, Domaine le Forget, Saint-Irénée, Quebec, May, 2001. DDD.
* Also available from Red Priest Recordings as part of the complete Bach Cello Suites

Experience Classicsonline

Angela East will be familiar as the cellist in the piratical outfit Red Priest, purveyors of many an outlandish move – and plenty of sensitive ones too, let it not be forgotten - now to be found on their own Red Priest label, as is this release. East states that the pieces here are ones given to students and that therefore they’re not really recorded, being considered too simple. Armed however with a baroque cello and an audacious imagination she has set to work in constructing a programme that doesn’t seek to make any unduly pedagogic points, but rather takes the music and plays it with commitment. Clearly the student status stops at the Bach Suite she essays.
Actually the Eccles sonata isn’t as rare as all that, and it’s a transcription from the violin original into the bargain. Jacques Thibaud made a beautiful recording of it in days of yore, and many a viola player is given it to study, as indeed are cellists. East is aided by Howard Beach, her RP colleague, and cellist Ruth Alford. East’s ornaments are fine, she ends the second movement – ‘borrowed’ from one of Bonporti’s works – with a rather melodramatic gesture, and tears into the finale with gusto. Accents are powerful and there’s a resounding, powder keg pizzicato to bring the show to a close.
Sensitive dynamic terracing informs de Fesch’s sonata: in fact her playing throughout is finely judged. The finale in particular shows how buoyant rhythmic control can generate considerable excitement, and how textures can be explored with a minimum of ostentation.
One can certainly appreciate the effects in the Couperin selection, probably the most diverting of which are the pedal harmonics for the drone passage in the Plainte. Her Vivaldi is quite interventionist, in that she shortens notes, and takes a more free approach in general but it’s still an engaging, theatrical affair. So too is the Sammartini-Berteau confection – a melange of both composers’ work it seems. Whoever wrote what, and when, the result here is a score-draw, with scintillating vivacity the end result and insouciance the underlying emotive state. This just leaves the G major Bach suite, and this performance is certainly individualistic. She takes the opening very slowly and I find her phrasing in the Courante unusual – the articulation sounds forced and somewhat unnatural. There’s considerable power in the Gigue finale, but overall idiosyncrasy seeps into this performance.
The booklet is attractively ‘aged’ but the recording, fortunately, is a fine one.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Brian Wilson


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