Audiophilia: Haimovitz plays Bach Cello Suites

October 23, 2015

The Bach Cello Suites According to Anna Magdalena

Matt Haimovitz, baroque cello and piccolo cello
PentaTone [2 CDs]

This is Israeli cellist Matt Haimovitz’ second go around the Bach Cello Suites. I have not heard the first, but this second recording fifteen years later does great service to the magnificent suites.

The new PentaTone recording (this company is knocking it out of the park, audiophile-wise) is beautifully natural. Just the right amount of resonance to enhance the cello tone and not to drown it. Haimovitz is playing the suites on a baroque cello and the sixth suite on the five-string piccolo cello. The baroque cello is quite similar to the modern cello but it has a shorter neck and fingerboard, and usually no end pin. I imagine playing the cello without an end pin very fatiguing. The informed practice was taken from the version that was published by Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdalena.

Haimovitz is gifted with all the attributes of the international cellist — flawless intonation, golden sound and wonderful technique. But he’s a superb musician, too. There are so many moments and phrases in the six Suites where musical magic happens. Fingers lifted there, resonant emphasis at the bottom of the phrase here, no agogic ritardandos. It all sounds so natural, but as any musician knows, Bach, and especially fabulous Bach, is the most difficult to play. Natural purity comes at many thousands of hours cost.

There is playfulness among the faster movements and gravitas in the superb slower movements. Dances have spring and then there is Haimovitz’ gorgeous tone throughout.

I would not have known had I not read a post on Haimovitz’ Facebook page that these performances (recorded at he Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City, USA in April 2015) were performed on something other than a modern concert cello. So good is the technique, polish and style. Highly recommended.

By: ANTHONY KERSHAW

Read at: Audiophilia

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