An excellent recording
I am very impressed by this recording. Perhaps to my shame, I had not heard Emmanuelle Bertrand before so I approached this with a little dubiety because there are now so many recordings of the Bach Cello Suites and I wasn’t sure we needed yet another. I was wrong.
Bertrand is plainly a wonderful cellist. Her technique is impeccable, so she makes light of the technical challenges in these wonderful works and makes them sing and dance delightfully. She also plainly “gets” Bach, because his dancing rhythms and his fabulous emotional expressiveness all shine through here. Her tempi are generally on the brisk side but never inappropriately rushed and she uses rubato with restraint, thought and care to phrase and give meaning to the music while never disrupting Bach’s essential pulse. Her approach reminds me slightly of Paul Tortelier (a very good thing) but she’s her own woman who puts Bach first but invests the music with her own sense.
There is real emotional depth here in movements like the Sarabande from the Fifth Suite, joyous beauty in the Prelude to the Third Suite, delightful vigour in the closing Gigues, and so on. Bertrand’s cello sounds fabulous throughout (although the acoustic is slightly over-resonant in places for my taste). The whole thing is a real pleasure which I suspect will take its place among my best-loved recordings of the Cello Suites. Very warmly recommended.