One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review



Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Six Suites for Solo Cello
No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 [20:38]
No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 [23:26]
No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009 [26:08]
No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 [27:12]
No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 [ 30:13]
No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 [36:07]
Jean de Spengler (cello)
rec. live, March-May 2018, Chapel of the Château de Lunéville
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1575/7 [3 CDs: 163:52]

This excellently presented set contains a booklet interview between cellist Jean de Spengler and Alexis Galpérine, the set’s artistic supervisor, in which they discuss the Cello Suites at length. Spengler’s teacher was André Lévy who recorded the suites in 1962 at the age of 67 and he also studied them with Andre Navarra, whose 1977 recordings I reviewed. He confronts with directness and honesty the dilemmas posed by historically informed performances – some of which he adopted in previous encounters with the suites – and by his ultimate resolution to perform them in what I suppose one could term the traditional manner. He nevertheless considers his experiments with HIP to have been an invaluable stepping stone.

The suites were recorded two-by-two in front of an audience – hardly at all audible – followed by patching sessions. This gives a sense of focus to the performances. What is also evident is the expansive nature of the readings, causing there to be three discs, an unprecedented state of affairs in my experience. It’s clear that he is far from Lévy’s own conception., much less Navarra’s in respect of the music’s dynamism. Very rightly, de Spengler, now that he is 60 and a long-established orchestral principal and chamber player, is very much on his own personal journey.

His care for the music is clear from every bar, as is his characterisation of the various movements. This is particularly clear from the Preludes and Sarabandes; the former invariably highly reflective and laden and the latter subject to tonal and timbral differentiation. It’s noticeable that the Sarabandes in particular transmit a very evocative sense of introspection, through variations in colour and weight. For de Spengler the suites seem to become narrative super-structures, none susceptible to the kind of dance imperatives that cellists now find de rigeur. In fact, the music’s density, the fact that phrases taper and sometimes stop, that lines are often rigorously broken up, seems to suggest that de Spengler views the music horizontally and not vertically.

The problematic sixth sonata is subject to what is surely the slowest performance on disc at 36-minutes – and indeed each of the other suites is slower than almost every other performance I’ve come across. Normally tempo in itself is not necessarily a concern, especially when the results are, as here, consistently applied. But what the listener cannot escape is a micro-focus so absorbed that fluidity is sometimes drained away.

The recorded sound in the beautiful and acoustically impressive Chapel of the Château de Lunéville is splendid. So too, as noted, is the colourful and interesting booklet note. De Spengler’s performances are highly personal and personalised. The effect, to me, is one of a musician communing with the music - but communing also with himself – and threading through its fabric with deliberation.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Stephen Greenbank

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger