Nina Kotova

Bach: The Cello Suites

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The very short list of credits on this Warner Classics release includes Russian American cellist Nina Kotova and producer Adam Abeshouse, who delivers a very closely miked sound in the frequently used Performing Arts Recital Hall of Purchase College on Long Island, New York. But perhaps the uncredited star on this set of Bach's Six Suites for solo cello is Kotova's 1679 Stradivarius instrument, which Kotova exploits to the maximum. Her reading is one of those in the line coming down from Pablo Casals, with a high degree of expressiveness generated through variations in tempo and articulation. Hear any of the concluding gigues, which come off like late Romantic witches' dances, for an example, or the increasingly unexpected relationships among the Gavotte sections in the Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 (CD 2, track 17). But what gives Kotova's reading its real edge is the sound of the cello itself and her ability to integrate it into what she's doing. The Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011, almost seems to unfold inevitably from its opening low note, which carries deep resonances, echoes, and overtones. Since coming on the scene in the 1990s, Kotova has made reasonably well-received recordings of standard repertory and has played a good deal of contemporary music. With this recording she breaks through to another level with an original and beautifully realized interpretation of some of the most-played music in the cello repertory. It might not be the cup of tea of those who search for patterns in the cello suites and prefer an objective reading, but it will be compelling for even casual Bach listeners.

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