Sunday, 26 July 2015

Bach - Cello Suites - Fournier

Rating: 5/5

Wonderful playing of great music

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.

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