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This is deservedly regarded as a classic recording of the Bach Cello Suites. Fournier was one of the very greatest of 20th Century cellists, and this recording is among his finest. It is thoughtful and deeply felt, with generally measured tempi and enough rubato (speeding up and slowing down) to allow the music really to speak to us without becoming swamped in the cellist's own personality or swept away in Romantic fervour. It is marvellous playing in which Fournier's virtuosity is put entirely to the service of Bach, and the result is something really special. The great sweeping arpeggios of the Prelude to Suite No. 3 are resonant and deeply moving, for example, and the magical, numinous Sarabande from Suite No. 5 is simply spellbinding.

The recording quality (from 1961) is very good and the digital transfer seems to have preserved the fabulous sound of Fournier's cello beautifully. The notes are a little sketchy, but the music's the really important thing.

I have loved the Bach Cello Suites since I was a hopelessly bad teenage cellist (a long time ago now). Of all the recordings I have heard this stands with the very best. I couldn't possibly pick a single favourite, but if you want just one for your collection, this will do you very well indeed. Even if, like me, you already own more than one recording I would urge you to try Fournier. There is insight and beauty in abundance here, and I recommend this set without any reservation whatever.

(You may like to know that this set has been re-reissued at an even more reasonable price: Bach, J.S.: The Cello Suites.)
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2004
Very high quality recordings from the archives (with no hiss) and played by a master. I love this music and I have 10 different versions. Many are excellent, especially the Casals. Some people sound like the cello is too big for them and it makes them all dramatic. Not Fournier - he's the man - everything beautifully and effortlesly, undramatically musical.
He brings more sweetness to these works than any other performer without in any way losing their drama. Gendron is similar but weaker. This is a rich and powerful sound that is also sophisticated and well paced. Yo Yo Ma is amateurish by comparison to my ear.
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on 29 April 2010
I have always known the worth of these pieces - through Casals' early recordings and Tortelier's quicksilver expression but buying these marvellous Fournier performances for a song has been a revelation.

Such warmth, such style and emotion . I have had my breath taken away by these performances and listened late into the night . A true classic of the gramophone and an essential purchase for all lovers of Bach and great cello playing .
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on 27 August 2015
As the old saying goes, “Melody is the cry of Man to God whereas harmony is the response of God to Man.” I know not where Bach’s cellos suites sit within this dynamic. Are they, as Plotinus declares, “the flight of the alone to the Alone?" Elsewhere, the Greek philosopher states ” It’s now time, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order; a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye, but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the soul, independent of all corporeal assistance.” Again, this is true of BWV 1007 - 1012: they’re revelatory. As for their wider connectivity, Plotinus is likewise pertinent “The Will of God copes with the ceaseless flux and losses of the material world by ceaselessly reintroducing the known forms into new substances, thus ensuring perpetuity not to the particular item but to the unity of idea.”

While I have Rostropovich somewhere in the mix, I always turn to these kingly accounts from Pierre Fournier whenever I want to retreat from the world and putrescence of the self. Here, homo sapiens reaches the limits of shunt; we cannot go beyond this point lest we sunder spirit from flesh. For the duration of these suites, one glimpses the latticework of things, time’s elasticity and the eloquence of silence. No noise in the world can prevail against this sonority. And where it leads is anyone’s guess.
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on 26 November 2007
This old recording by Fournier is nothing short of fantastic. I find the performance somewhat less dramatic than Casal's but nevertheless prefer Fourier's interpretation due to the effortless flow of glowing feelings he manages to produce. I'll allow myself to disagree with the earlier reviewer: whilst the quality of recording is very good indeed, one can still pick the hiss on a right equipment although much less so comparatively to Casal's benchmark.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 September 2015
There are many recordings of these great Suites, going back to Casals' ground-breaking versions of the 1930s, which I suspect have never been unavailable since (and they are available now, well remastered, on Naxos). Fournier's approach can be characterised as one enables the music to sing above all else. The sound he produces from his 'cello is unfailingly beautiful, tuning is spot-on, chording is elegant and sonorous rather than gruff (as it can be). His style is more legato than that of some others, with a lot of slurred bowing creating always a sense of forward movement, so that the Suites never get 'stuck'. All of this works quite beautifully. If you want a version which suggests greater struggle, an edgier approach (as Casals himself does in some places), they are to be found, but this is unquestionigly one of the great sets and can be recommended without reservation - DGG's old recording is still excellent, too.
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These works are a formidable challenge for any cellist and there are several fine recordings available. I have the versions by Pierre Fournier (on Archiv DGG) and by Paul Tortelier (on EMI) in my collection and I am equally happy listening to either. I have also heard portions of the recordings by Mstislav Rostropovich and by Yo-Yo Ma, which to my ears are equally brilliant and absorbing. Each Suite is a collection of six Baroque dances: a Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte or Bourée or Minuet, and a final Gigue. These are 2CD collections with 3 Suites complete on each CD. I am sure you would find any of these interpretations equally spiritually uplifting, even in the slower movements.

Bach: Cello Suites
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on 22 May 2006
Yes! a wonderful experience this recording from DG Archiv. The reviews are not far from the mark when describing Fournier as a master and the intepretation and playing as beautiful. The work of an intelligent and mature player.I own versions by Casals, Yo Yo, Jian Wang, Janos Starker, Rostropovich and Paolo Pandolfo.

Fournier does not have the manic drive of Starker or his ability to make the music sing and sing. On balance Fournier is superior for the overall interpretation and beauty. Mr Holmes is right 'undramatically musical' hits the nail on the head. If I could keep only one it would be Fournier...or would it be Starker?? Better keep them both.
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on 23 January 2009
I must thank wholeheartedly the other Amazon reviewers who have led me towards this recording. It is quite simply staggering - I am not a Bach or cello expert but this is deeply stirring stuff. Intelligent without a hint of melodrama, and just very beautiful to listen to. If I have a minor criticism, it is that the very lowest notes lack a little resonance. That could be the recording, Fourniers's instrument or my equipment. But overall, I cannot believe that anyone will regret purchasing these recordings.
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on 28 January 2003
Although this is not a new recording, it sounds quite glorious: the cello's warmth fills the room with some of the most moving and relaxing music ever written. I have not heard other performances of these pieces, but Fournier's playing sounds to me very J.S. Bach: serene, sensitive and spiritual.
Seems to me another good issue from the reliable DG Originals series: memorable performances from the past at affordable prices.
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