Sep 2012

Pieter WispelWey

Luister 10 - CHOC - FFFF
Five out of five in The Daily Telegraph.

2012 10 15

***** Pieter Wispelwey's new recordings dance with sophistication and personality, writes Ivan Hewett. Evil Penguin Records, 2 CDs + DVD, £22.99 There’s something mysterious about Bach’s cello suites. On the face of it they’re just sets of charming Frenchified courtly dances, like the thousands churned out in courts all over Europe in the early 18th century. But if that’s all they are, why are some dances so desperately tragic in tone, and why are all of them loaded with technical and musical challenges? Perhaps the answer is that they’re similar in kind to Chopin’s waltzes. They’re sophisticated portraits of dances, with more personality and musical sophistication than dancers really need to manoeuvre themselves around a dance-floor. That’s certainly how Pieter Wispelwey treats them. This is his third complete recording of the suites, and he’s still asking questions of these pieces that he knows so well. This boxed-set has an accompanying DVD in which we see Wispelwey discussing the options with two eminent Bach scholars. It’s fascinating, but in the end it’s the performances on the two CDs that count. And these are really extraordinary. Wispelwey uses a Baroque cello with the strings tuned down a whole tone. It gives a deep grainy sound, but counteracting that is the fabulous springy liveliness of the playing. Wispelwey can certainly make these dances dance, but at the same time he gives each one a speaking eloquence. Like a master rhetorician, he fills Bach’s even procession of notes with meaningful pauses, emphatic emphases, pleading diminuendos, changes of tone.