This is quite remarkably good. I love the Cello Suites and they are among the very few pieces of which I have a dozen recordings or more including transcriptions for lute, theorbo, viola da gamba and double bass but I wasn't sure that I would like a viola transcription. I was completely wrong - these are very beautiful and musically very rewarding. The idea of such transcriptions is very much in Bach's idiom as an inveterate transcriber himself, and these are extremely well done. They sound utterly at home on the viola and work perfectly here.
What really makes them shine is Maxim Rysanov's playing, which is superb. The sound of his viola is simply lovely with a beautiful, beautiful tone, and he shows a deep understanding of this music. His phrasing is impeccable, he brings out the dances which underlie the pieces without ever trivialising them and never loses that essential pulse which always drives Bach's music. He has the excellence of technique to make the quicker (and sometimes very demanding) movements sound as light and natural as breathing and also brings real weight to the slower movements. The extraordinary Sarabande from Suite No.5, for example, is quite spellbinding, I think.
As always from BIS, the recorded sound is excellent, with a warm feel and ideal resonance which rounds the sound of the viola beautifully without blurring it at all and the presentation is very good. It's an excellent disc all round; it was a revelation to me and I recommend it very warmly indeed.
on 22 March 2014
The Bach Cello suites, are here performed, with great clarity. The viola, and Rysanov's interpretation, have finally made me understand, as well as love, the Bach Cello suites.