Anne Gastinel

Bach: Cello Suites

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Anne Gastinel is one of France's most frequently recorded and highly regarded cellists. Having performed the bulk of the instrument's standard repertoire, she has made a name for herself through her powerful, clean, technically proficient, and musically fulfilling recordings. Her foray into the Bach cello suites, by and large, is similarly pleasing. Although she was once allowed to play on Casals' legendary Goffriller cello, for this album she must "settle" for a magnificently deep and projecting 1690 Testore instrument. Gastinel tends to favor swift tempos throughout the Six Suites, never quite stepping over the line of being too fast or rushed, but definitely pushing the envelope. Her technical prowess cannot be faulted as she executes even the most nimble of passages with apparent ease and cleanliness. Intonation is solid, tone color is delightfully varied, and Naïve's recorded sound quality is present but still warm and inviting. The only area some listeners may find questionable is rhythm, which Gastinel almost continuously morphs. Sometimes, like in most of the dance movements, the rhythmic alterations are more slight, elongating notes here and there to outline form. However, these are dances, and listeners may find their lack of rhythmic integrity off-putting. Some of the preludes, however, are greatly altered rhythmically. The Prelude from the C major Suite, for example, is so altered that someone taking rhythmic dictation from Gastinel's playing would never in a million years come up with what is actually printed in the score. Listeners who appreciate this kind of fluidity will no doubt find her playing quite enjoyable; those who prefer a bit more formality may not be as satisfied.

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