Emmanuelle Bertrand

Johann Sebastian Bach: Complete Cello Suites

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Most recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach's six Cello Suites reflect the highly individualized interpretations of the 20th century masters, which began with Pablo Casals’ innovative explorations, recorded in the late 1930s, and continued decades later in the celebrated readings of Pierre Fournier, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, and many others. However, the movement for period style interpretations on original instruments has given players alternatives to the conventional modern approach; the use of gut strings and a Baroque bow require different techniques and produce fresh sonorities, so the possibilities have been expanded substantially. As the availability of such recordings increases, Emmanuelle Bertrand has added her voice to the historically informed milieu, playing a Carlo Tononi cello from the early 18th century, though she is not primarily known as an early music performer and is better known for her recordings of Romantic and modernist repertoire. Bertrand avoids the strict rhythms or mechanical phrasing sometimes associated with early music performances, and instead infuses the music with a mix of her intellect and personality in a spirit of vigorous spontaneity, knowing when to express deep emotion but always cognizant of the dance styles and expressive expectations of the time, including generous ornamentation and an improvisational freedom with a flexible rubato. This double CD from Harmonia Mundi gives Bertrand a rather intimate recording that works despite the noisy acoustics of the Médiapôle Saint-Césaire in Arles.

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