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on 9 July 2008
This is one of the best performances of Bach's solo cello suites I have heard. I have other recordings by Jaap Ter Linden and Pieter Wispelwey (equally fine) but I think this recording stands out. I'm not a cello player but Jean Guihen Queyras's performance to me appears to strike the right balance between correct tempo and clear phrasing. The recorded sound is superb, wonderfully warm; not too close with just enough ambience of the recording venue - a church in Sulzburg.
Queyras uses a 1696 Gioffredo Cappa cello, with a modern non-baroque set up, for all six suites and doesn't use a six string piccolo cello in the sixth.
The double CD set also comes with a bonus DVD, which includes a full performance of the third suite and a short film about the making of the recording.
In summary, a performance to treasure for many years listening pleasure. Highly recommended.
33 Comments| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I like this interpretation of the Cello Suites very much. Jean-Guihen Queyras is a fine cellist and he brings something both fresh and thoughtful to this marvellous music.

Queyras has a distinctive approach which I found quite a surprise in many ways. His tempi are often quite brisk and he has a very decisive approach to phrasing which shapes the lines somewhat differently from some of the great interpretations I am used to - and I think it works very well. He has a superb technique which he uses to allow him almost to skip and glide over the notes in places, so those wonderful wide arpeggios in the prelude of the Third Suite really sway and dance, for example. He never trivialises, though, so the Sarabandes have real depth and gravitas in every Suite while never becoming stodgy, and for me his approach sheds new light in lots of places.

I found this set a revelation in many ways. The vigour of many of the movements is a joy, without any sense of rush or strain and there is a genuine depth of understanding and scholarship throughout, I think. The recorded sound is superb and Queyras's cello sounds wonderful in a lovely, resonant acoustic. I have a lot of versions of the Cello Suites (I used to be a very bad teenage cellist) and this will be played just as often as my dearly loved sets by Isserlis, Fournier, Ma and others. It's a lovely interpretation and very warmly recommended.
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on 17 April 2014
Up to now there have been three must-have recordings of the Bach Cello Suites: Casals, Fournier and Tortelier. But now there is a fourth must-have recording, namely this one by young Jean-Guihen Queyras.

His playing is fresh and lively, with a joyful dancing quality in the faster movements and deep introspection in the slower ones. His tone is rich and gorgeous, resonantly recorded, but without excessive reverberation. He has a light touch, and not a trace of that ponderousness which can deaden this music in inferior hands. He has no distracting mannerisms but plenty of imagination, plenty of variety of tone and attack and phrasing. Tempi are generally brisk but not breathless.

If I have one small gripe, it is that very occasionally his sense of rhythmic firmness deserts him, so that a phrase, or a series of phrases, will be played without sufficient emphasis on the main beats. The result is that the music drifts momentarily into a sort of anchorless rhythmic haze, prompting the reaction 'where on earth am I??'.

The performances are full of joy, they are probing, and above all they are interesting-without-any-oddities. Whatever recordings you already have, even if you have the three must-haves I mention above, you should get this one too. The music, however well you already know it, will be joyfully refreshed and invigorated for you.

A must-have!
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on 15 May 2014
"In a promotional DVD accompanying this release Jean-Guihen Queyras cites the abundance of excellent Bach Cello Suites cycles on the market as one reason he waited until 2007 to commit his interpretations to disc. Queyras needn’t have worried, for his playing is never less than beautiful, eloquent, and thoroughly world-class. It fuses the most apparent characteristics distinguishing certain memorable editions: Schiff’s shapely melodic parsing, Pergamenschikov’s infectious feeling for the dance, Bylsma’s period-performance innovations, and Tortelier’s purity of tone.

Queyras possesses an all-encompassing, supple, and effortless technique equal to Truls Mørk’s, yet he avoids the latter’s arch and self-conscious tendencies. In fact, the array of colors and articulations Queyras obtains always bypass the instrument en route to the music. The Sixth Suite is a good example. Because the work’s notoriously high-lying tessitura poses no problems for Queyras, he can sustain the Sarabande with whispering deliberation or, by contrast, make the Gavottes lighter and more bracing than usual. The latter also applies to the E-flat suite’s Gigue and the C major’s zesty Bourées. In Queyras’ hands, each Suite’s opening Prelude amounts to a master class in how to intelligently scale dynamics and inflect a basic pulse with a sense of proportion and controlled freedom, such as in the D minor Prelude’s insidious build. An ideal church acoustic and Cécile Lenoir’s sensitive engineering make Queyras’ Bach all the more recommendable." (J. D.)
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on 6 May 2013
I can't disagree with any of the other reviewers - this is a gorgeous recording that I've already listened to over and over since I bought it.

Jean-Guihen Queyras's cello has a wonderful, clear, warm sound with no harshness, and he makes the Bach Cello Suites a joy to listen to. His phrasing is lyrical and very natural, and his tempo is right on that Goldilocks knife-edge - fast enough to keep the music from ever dragging, but not so fast that it loses its relaxed character.
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on 15 November 2013
I play the Suites and know each note. This version is by far the most human, and contains a perfect balance of heart and mind. Maria approaches this firstly as an academic and chooses rational and well informed fingerings and bowings. She then proceeds to give these pieces their soul, accurately reflecting the correct mood of the movement and the key that it is in.

I listen to this version all the time. It is not the most showey, nor the most dramatic, but another cellist would recognice the greatness of this recording.
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on 8 March 2014
If there is one CD I keep coming back to, if only to set the atmosphere while I'm working, it's this one. Simple and perfect
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on 15 December 2012
Purest sound! Accurate performance. Ideal to listen with earphones. A must for Colletors of Bach Cello Suites versions. The making of is very interesting.
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on 22 October 2015
Essential work, great performance and beautiful packaging
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on 7 April 2014
I bought this thinking I was buying the Queryas recording because his name was listed and the reveiws were all about him but this is NOT his recording.
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