One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 







International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


3 for 2 Offer



All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC

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


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews


Puertas de Madrid
www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


All Reference Recordings


Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
review
All Divine Art Reviews


Debussy Complete Preludes

 


 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
The Cello Suites (1720?)
No. 1 in G major BWV 1007 [17:55]
No. 3 in C major BWV 1009 [22:12]
No. 5 in C minor BWV 1011 [28:02]
No. 2 in D minor BWV 1008 [21:09]
No. 4 in E flat major BWV 1010 [23:49]
No. 6 in D major BWV 1012 [31:34]
David Watkin (cello)
rec. 26 March - 12 Dec 2013, Robin Chapel, Edinburgh
RESONUS RES10146 [68:19 + 76:42]

None of the other ten or so recordings I own of the Bach Cello Suites is played “authentic, original instrument” style, but urged by the plaudits of knowledgeable fellow-music-lovers and encouraged by the number of awards it has received, including the Gramophone Best Baroque CD of the Year, I took a chance on this and am very glad I did so; it is a triumph. Its success is made all the more significant and poignant by the fact that David Watkin has since had to relinquish his solo career as a cellist as a result of the onset in 2013 of scleroderma, an auto-immune disease, but fortunately he is able to pursue an alternative vocation as a conductor.

I do not have perfect pitch but was immediately surprised by the first notes until I realised that Watkin was using baroque pitch, essentially a semitone lower than modern tuning, so it is F sharp which strikes the ear in the Prelude of the Suite No 1 in G major. Furthermore, the complete absence of vibrato and rubato might offend traditionalists but Watkin's musicality and the laser accuracy of his flawless intonation - a rare thing even among the greatest cello soloists - in combination with the musicality of his phrasing bring enormous rewards.

The differentiation between tempi is never self-conscious or “applied”. His speeds are generally brisk – as a whole, the timing of individual suites is at least two minutes faster than the norm - but not in the breathless, insensitive and doctrinaire manner that afflicts more extreme period practice - and he takes many of the Allemandes very slowly and soulfully, especially the one in No. 6. Nina Kotova's account is in fact several minutes faster and I noticed no undue rush there, even though I am habituated to Rostropovich's leisureliness. A criticism of Kotova was that there was a lack of variety of tonal colour in her sumptuous playing; that is certainly not the case here. Watkin’s sustains a “pulsing” momentum but deliberately varies the intensity of phrasing between repeats to provide contrast.

His tone is often pleasantly raw - he is using gut strings and a baroque bow - and the joy he takes in playing the music infectious; highlights for me are the Gigue in No. 3, the immediately ensuing Prelude to No. 5 and the deeply tragic opening to No. 2. The change in tone, when, for the final five-string suite he switches cellos from a Francesco Rugeri instrument, c.1670, to one by Hieronymous Amati, c.1600, is very noticeable: its sound is lighter, wirier and buzzier - just right for a suite whose metaphysical import is suggestive of transfiguration and sunlight.

The sound engineering is ideal, capturing the atmospheric but not over-reverberant acoustic of the small chapel which was the recording venue. The booklet is handsomely produced, with informative notes by Watkin himself, nice colour photographs of the instruments and Watkin playing them.

I am not always enthused by historically informed performance but this recording presents period practice at its best – a superb account.

Ralph Moore



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews


All Chandos reviews


All Hyperion reviews


All Foghorn reviews


All Troubadisc reviews


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All Eloquence reviews


All Lyrita Reviews

 


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali


Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4


French Cello Concertos

 

October


Shostakovich