David Kenedy

Bach: Six Solo Cello Suites

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It's possible to play J.S. Bach's cello suites with deep feeling and spirituality while at the same time observing meter and a consistent tempo and delivering music that has shape and substance as well as subjective emotions. Alas, David Kenedy's set for Signum Classics is about as subjective and emotional as can be imagined, and his performances of the suites seem deficient in intellectual rigor and artistic detachment. The vital rhythmic bounce of eighteenth century dances is largely lost in Kenedy's performances, and his heavily applied rubato tends to blur these forms into musical "streams of consciousness," where it becomes difficult to distinguish between allemandes, courantes, and sarabandes; and the suite framework deteriorates into something much looser, like an extended rhapsody. Kenedy does little to hold the listener's concentration, and his free style of playing leaves one constantly guessing where he is heading. His best moments are in the faster dances, such as the minuets, bourrées, gavottes, and gigues, where he takes fewer expressive liberties and attempts to convey an underlying pulse. Furthermore, Kenedy produces a mellow and rich sound with his 1758 Landolfi cello, and his bowing is remarkably smooth and noise-free. But these pieces demand much more than a pleasant tone and a general approximation of meter, and Kenedy's playing seems too Romantic and self-absorbed to make these performances convincing. The reproduction for these recordings is warm and close-up, so they may be recommended to anyone who merely -- and uncritically -- wants to hear the wonderfully vibrant sound of the cello.

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