Marianne Dumas

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suites - Rediscovering the Baroque Technique

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Modern interpretations of the six unaccompanied Cello Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach are widely available and enormously popular, largely due to the distinctly personal styles of such great performers as Pablo Casals, Janos Starker, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, and Pierre Fournier. To a lesser extent, historically informed performances in period style have received positive critical attention when they appear, though their reception has been mostly limited to scholars and fans of early music, not the mass market. For this 2018 release on Urania Records, Marianne Dumas presents the first five suites on a four-string Baroque cello by Daniel J. König, Leipzig, and the Suite No. 6 on a five-string Baroque cello by Johannes Loescher, Köln, while she plays with a Baroque bow by Hans Reiners, Berlin. With these specially constructed instruments and a thorough knowledge of period practices and carefully researched Baroque techniques, Dumas plays with extraordinary virtuosity and expressive power, though the excessive rubato and brooding weight of Romantic interpretations are replaced by agile rhythms and a lightness of tone that is rare in cello music. Dumas also reverses bowing, in the manner of playing a viola da gamba, and this technique produces greater resonance than conventional bow strokes. Because she regards her work on the suites as a research project, Dumas has aimed at a more objective approach rather than a subjective reading, though her playing is by no means mechanical and her expressiveness still shines through in her artistic shaping of the harmony and the sound, though without Romantic gestures or self-indulgent moodiness.

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