Jean-Marc Apap

Bach Suites

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AllMusic Review by

There are three odd -- perhaps "unusual" would be the more correct word -- aspects to this recording. First, half the works here are cello suites by Bach transcribed for viola. Second, the other half of the works here are organ chorales by Bach transcribed for viola with string quartet. Third, the solo violist in question is not your garden-variety classically trained violist but a jazz and gypsy music playing classically trained violist. Do these changes make a difference? Yes, indubitably, and all for the better. Not that there is anything wrong with playing cello suites on the cello but playing them on the viola does force the jaded listener to hear the melodies with new ears. Nor is there anything wrong with playing organ chorales on the organ but playing them as chamber music does allow the fatigued listener to hear the counterpoint with a clear mind. And certainly there's nothing wrong with a classically trained musician playing Bach, but when jazz- and gypsy-informed players take on Bach's music, especially when the player possesses the technique, the heart, and the soul of Jean-Marc Apap, it does revivify the music. In the suites, Apap brings an interpretive freedom and an aching lyricism to the music that only enhances its appeal. In the chorales, he brings a tonal beauty and a harmonic clarity that likewise only enhances the music, especially accompanied by the delightfully named Quatuor Terpsycordes. Although not perhaps for everyone -- anyone who does not already know the cello suites or the organ chorales in their original forms is urged to seek them out first -- but for the legion of listeners to whom the cello suites are as mother's milk, Apap's recital will be a bracing cocktail. ZigZag's sound is warm and true.

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