Tortelier’s well loved and much re-released account of the Cello
Suites arrives anew on Classics for Pleasure at budget price.
Most welcome it is too.
way with Bach will not please everyone, especially the authenticists.
He plays a modern instrument and his style is full of Romantic
touches, lingering lovingly over phrases where others would
scamper on, and deploying many a guilty glissando where I suspect
it wasn’t written. Nevertheless, I warmed to his interpretation
instantly, and especially at this price, he is warmly recommendable.
resonant acoustic of the Temple Church helps to flesh out Tortelier’s
Romantic vision of the suites: the echo is judged to precision
and the engineers have done a fantastic job in calculating the
acoustic so as to provide a warm bloom around the sound. His
overall vision is expansive: just compare his timings to recent
releases, such as those of Isserlis
He is noticeably more leisurely in his pacing, but I loved it.
He is particularly at home in the Sarabande movement of each
work: the slow, stately dance is perfectly suited to his vision
and in each case he relaxes into the broad pacing, allowing
the melody to unfold in blissful stillness. Some may wish for
a quicker tempo to the Gigues and Bourées, but I was totally
convinced by his playing.
is particularly skilled at investing each suite with a character
of its own: Suite No. 5, for example, is full of careful, almost
gloomy introspection, particularly in the Prelude which seems
almost to fold in upon itself. The other minor suite, however,
(No. 2) is strident and dramatic, with virtuoso flourishes used
to underline the effects: just listen to the incredible double-stopping
in the first Minuet (CD2, track 5). After this Suite No 3 bursts
onto the scene with extrovert boldness – there will be no complaints
about lively pacing at the end of this suite – while
No. 6 is gentle and graceful. I suspect that this is why the
CDs do not present the suites in strict chronological order:
they build together to provide a satisfying journey this way.
masterful technique is on full display for all to see here:
phrasing, pacing and flourishes are all the clear product of
a lifetime’s experience, not to mention practice! His thoughtful,
old-school vision is still full of integrity and at this price
you can afford to have him alongside any other version you may