A very fine recording
This is a very fine recording. I approached it with some trepidation even though I love Rachel Podger’s playing (especially of Bach) because I wasn’t at all sure that the Cello Suites would transcribe successfully for the violin. There are some moments of weakness caused by the different properties of the instrument, but there are also some very rewarding things about it.
Podger’s tempi are generally pretty brisk, which I find works very well on the violin. She has the insight and the technique to make the dances really dance, which is probably the great strength of the set as Bach’s music really comes alive in her hands. Of necessity, what the violin lacks is the depth and gravitas of the cello and the relative lack of resonance does mean that some movements don’t have the impact they would on a cello (the Sarabande of the 5th Suite is a good case in point). However, many of the other movements – especially the closing Gigues – have such a joyous zing to them that it’s a very enjoyable and rewarding set overall.
This won’t take the place of my dearly loved cello recordings by Isserlis, Watkin, Fournier, Gastinel and others, but I’m very glad to have it and I’ll certainly be listening to it often. It’s truly great music in the hands of a truly great musician and I can recommend it very warmly.