Alexandre Debrus

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suites I, II & V

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The Six Suites for solo cello of J.S. Bach, like most other suites written at around the same time, make up a prelude followed by a set of dance movements. For the cello suites, the prelude is followed by five dances. While these movements were not designed to be actually danced to necessarily, retaining the dance-like qualities is certainly a critical component to any successful interpretation. It is in the preludes where performers are afforded the greatest amount of flexibility in pacing and rubato. Cellist Alexandre Debrus, performing the First, Second, and Fifth suites on Pavane Records, takes full advantage of this freedom in the preludes, most often by elongating notes well beyond their written value. While some listeners may already find fault with the curious choices Debrus makes as to which notes within phrases deserve this heightened emphasis in the preludes, many more are likely to dislike the continuation of the practice into the dance movements. Debrus so frequently and so awkwardly distorts the flow and pulse of these movements that listeners are left with an unappealing, disjointed product. Given the other positive aspects of Debrus' playing, this is really a shame. He plays with a rich, warm sound, precise intonation, and clear articulation. The rhythmic distortion goes too far beyond simply putting forth an original performance.

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