Thomas Demenga

J.S. Bach: Suiten für Violoncello

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Manfred Eicher's ECM label, with its mystical, inward uses of sound, is so well fitted to Bach's unaccompanied music for cello or violin that one may even be surprised that the label has not issued more recordings of this repertory. The sound on this recording of Bach's six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, from a live recording at the Hans Huber-Saal in Basel, is all that could be desired, bringing you up close to the cello of Swiss player Thomas Demenga without losing you in a swirl of echoes or extraneous cello noise. What's ironic is that Demenga's readings are anything but inward. If you're attached to the idea of the solo cello suites as murmurings of the inner soul, the album may not be for you. Demenga uses a Baroque bow and deploys the added fluency it allows in the service of lightness and a free dancelike quality. He correctly asserts, and backs up his assertion in his playing, that these suites are indeed suites of dances, but he also applies ornaments and a bit of rubato, neither to an extreme. So, if you see the suites as entries by Bach in a fundamentally ornamental French tradition, you're likely to enjoy this a great deal, and to appreciate the application of top-notch ECM sound to the exercise. Sample one of the faster dances, perhaps the Gigue of the Suite No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010, for the effect.

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