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|5. Menuett l/ll|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
|5. Gavotte I/II|
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Isserlis has based his interpretation on a combination of the earliest four surviving manuscripts, drawing mostly from the Anna Magdalena copy. He also provides a scholarly treat at the end of the suites - three extra recordings of the first Prelude, played from the earliest three copies in turn. It is a fascinating insight into the variations of tempo, bowing, and ornamentation presented to each cellist as they decide upon their own interpretation.
Along with many cellists, Isserlis feels that the suites aren't dance suites alone but have a story behind them. He suggests that their expressive journey marks them as 'Mystery Suites', travelling from the nativity (No.1) to the agony in the garden (No.2), the descent of the Holy Spirit (No.3), the Presentation in the Temple (No.4), the Crucifixion (No.5), to the Resurrection (No.6). Whether you agree with this theory or not, it is an interesting take which probably merits further research. In the meantime, it gives the listener another way of hearing the familiar music, and also understanding of a few of the editorial decisions, for example the execution of the final five bar-long chords of the second suite's Prelude. So different are these long, static chords to anything in any of the other suites, usual practise is to assume they are broken chords. Isserlis, however, has decided to play them as they are written, believing them to represent the Five Wounds of Christ. Unusual as the decision is, it does work.
Aside from the religious interpretation, Isserlis's tone and tempo feel absolutely right. The fact that these are dances is never forgotten, and there are none of the self-indulgent rubatos that characterise some recordings. Dances such as the Menuet from Suite No. 2 are light and flowing, with energy and drive. However, they always retain a courtly feel rather than tipping over into country-dance bounciness, as can so often happen. For the sixth suite, in the interests of sonority, Isserlis has opted to play his four-string cello rather than the five-stringed model the suite may have been originally written for. Despite the extra position work this decision meant, the technical pressure is never heard, leaving the listener free to be caught up in the emotional, joyful music.
This recording can sit proudly on the shelf alongside the great recordings of Casals and Rostropovich. In fact, I may find myself picking it up as the favourite.
This recording is Disc Of The Week on Radio 3's CD Review --Charlotte Gardner
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Having read the previous reviews, I can say I agree with most of the positive and respect the not so positive ones. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Mikicellist1975
I love it, deep, rich tones and energy , so different from Cassal's version from whence it all comes. Read morePublished 22 months ago by msJbs
i played this cd yesterday and found it dire..the playing seemed laboured and unsmoothe and the clonking of the bow put me off.. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2009 by crocus wood
Fine, flexible playing of wonderful music. However, the timbre of Isserlis' cello is rather thin for my ears. I have heard betterPublished on 1 Feb. 2009 by Ms. D. M. Neale
I heard the 6th suite in a radio broadcast and immediately wanted more, and when I finally got around to buying these discs I was not disappointed. Read morePublished on 2 Sept. 2008 by a nice guy
This recording is worth EVERY PENNY!
Even if you're not into 'classical' music GET THESE CD's and be inspired by music that's lasted over 250 years and is still going... Read more