Jaap ter Linden

Bach: Cello Suites

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One ought not perhaps to compare Jaap ter Linden's 2006 recording of Bach's solo cello suites with all other recordings of the works. After all, the revered late-'30s Pablo Casals recording, the esteemed 1982 Yo-Yo Ma recording, and the muscular 1991 Mstislav Rostropovich recording were all performed on modern instruments and Linden performs on a period instrument, a 1703 Giovanni Grancino. Thus the only truly comparable recordings will likewise feature a period cello: among others, Hidemi Suzuki's reserved 1991 for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Anner Bylsma's emotional 1996 recording for Sony, but above all, Linden's own 1992 recording for Harmonia Mundi. On those terms, Linden's 2006 recording is quite fine, but not in the final analysis great. His tone is dark and robust. His technique is strong and spry. His intonation is rich and full of warm overtones. But his interpretations, while wonderful at evoking the joyful pleasures of the major-key suites, is less successful at bringing out the tragic depths of the two minor-key suites, and one ends up admiring Linden's playing more than being moved by it. Although Brilliant's digital sound is as full, round, and close as Harmonia Mundi's, Linden seemed to have gone deeper into the music on that recording and this set may serve best as a useful addendum to his early performances.

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