Monday, 1 January 2018

Bach - Cello Suites - Yang

Rating: 2/5

Not an interpretation for me

I'm afraid I don't get on at all well with Sung-Won Yang's recording of the Cello Suites.  He is plainly a fine cellist, but for me his interpretation of Bach is a long way wide of the mark.

Technically, Yang is excellent and the sound he brings from his cello is lovely.  He is recorded in a very resonant acoustic but it remains clear and distinct so the sonic effect is very beautiful.  However, I simply don’t think that he gets Bach.  As a couple of examples, the Preludes to both the First and Third suites are taken largely at breakneck speed – so much so that much the internal structure is indistinct and lost, including those magnificent, moving wide arpeggios on the Third Prelude.  They also include some pretty extreme rubato, almost skidding to a halt at the end of some phrases which I found a distraction from the music rather than an enhancement.  In the wondrous Sarabande of the Fifth Suite there is some downward portamento so pronounced and inappropriate that it made me physically wince…and so on.

Interpretation is a matter of personal taste, of course, and others may respond better to this set, but I really don’t like it.  There are many, many fine interpretations of the Cello Suites available but I'm afraid that, for me, this isn’t one of them.

(Some of my personal favourites include David Watkin's superb recent recording, Pierre Fournier, Steven Isserlis, Anne Gastinel…)

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