Jean-Guihen Queyras

Bach: Cello Suites [2 CDs + DVD]

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The Bach suites for solo cello are among the most frequently recorded -- and debated -- works in the whole of the classical repertoire. This is certainly the case if only considering the cello repertoire, with cellists often making multiple releases of the suites as their relationship with and interpretation of Bach change over their lives. As such, new releases of the suites are often met with skepticism and cautiousness. This set by French cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras proves, however, that there are still new things to be said about Bach, and that there is always room for one more magnificent recording of the cello suites. A student of Baroque cello guru Anner Bylsma, Queyras is heard here playing on a modern instrument. His training with Bylsma is obvious in his approach to the suites, but the modern instrument provides a clarity and resonance of sound that is completely enveloping. Tempos and rhythm throughout the suites is completely organic and fluid; it is far from metronomic playing, but his use of rubato is never overdone and always serves to highlight phrasing and implied harmonies. Queyras uses his own ornamentation -- a common practice in the Baroque -- to great effect. No aspect of his technical brilliance can be faulted; intonation is impeccable, right arm articulation is precise while still maintaining long, spun lines. Queyras' sound is extremely resonant in the lower registers of his instrument while higher notes are delightfully clear. The included DVD of the Third Suite could be left out; as is often the case with videos of this kind, the sound and movement do not consistently line up, which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable viewing experience. No matter. Queyras has given us all a gift with the profound and immensely gratifying set of the Bach suites.

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