Werner Matzke

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 3 & 5

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With an abundant selection of recordings already on the market, new recordings of J.S. Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello have an uphill climb to distinguish themselves. Of all of Bach's works, the cello suites -- along with the solo violin sonatas and partitas -- are perhaps the most discussed, most debated, and most re-recorded. Cellist Werner Matzke argues that these different interpretations still share one thing in common: putting the suites up on a pedestal and treating them more as shrines than pieces of music. Matzke asserts that since the suites are, after all, primarily made of dance movements, they should be played as such, with brighter tempos, more spontaneity, and less focus on the works' soloistic qualities. In these respects, Matzke's recordings of the first, third, and fifth suites on the Stan Music label are a complete success. They are indeed played at tempos that are at first shocking, but quickly become engaging and lively, truly convincing the listener of their dance-like quality. This perspective does come at a price, however. Matzke's playing is not without its technical flaws, which, in the interest of not splicing together multiple takes, are somewhat overlooked but become distracting. The overall sound quality of the album is rather echoic and a great deal of production noise (particularly finger falls) can be heard throughout. Still, listeners who agree with Matzke's that the suites should be played like the dances they are will still enjoy this fresh interpretation.

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