I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Pieter Wispelwey on Bach

#alttext# I like the cello playing of Pieter Wispelwey. His Bach sonatas are still among my favorites, and this recording features friends Richard Egarr and Daniel Yeadon in works such as the "gamba" sonatas with Wispelwey on the piccolo cello. BWV 1027-1029 (the last in G minor, my favorite of the gamba suites), plus some odd choices to fill the recording, such as the slow movement of BWV 1053, and some preludes (BWV 99, 846, 1007) and the largo from BWV 1056. In the hi-fi scene, I've been playing with an alternate playback app on my Mac Pro, called Audirvana. I have it set up to upsample tracks to 24 bit, 96kHz, in addition to taking over the audio circuitry of the computer to maximize the sound. It's hard to judge what these players are doing that iTunes is not, but there does seem (as I have written here and elsewhere before) less fatigue on the ears, using both headphones and the speakers. But back to the recording... Egarr uses a variety of instruments, in all, piano, organ, and harpsichord. Now, I just recently purchased a recording of Paolo Pandolfo performing Bach's cello suites on gamba, so, here, we get the opposite: cello playing the gamba suites. You might know know it, listening to BWV 1029, as Wispelwey's violoncello piccolo has that winey (as opposed to whiney) sound that gambas get, which I know is an odd term to use, but the tone of many gambas make me think of wine (the drink). I am not sure where the association comes from, but wine has richness, and you can see through it... what's left is the color and texture as it bounces around in a glass... somehow this image and experience to me equates to the singing quality of a gamba. And Pieter has it going on with his cello. Of course, you might call me crazy... because sometimes it's quite clear he's playing a cello. I like BWV 846 and the opening to the cello suites, but I'm not a big fan of the remaining slower movements. This is not bad music, nor a bad performance, but they simply fail to energize me like the gamba sonatas proper. The closing number, the Bach "arioso" that I'm intimately acquainted with, is a delicious piece of music, but why did Egarr try playing an organ and a piano at the same time? (Yes, he did that.) It's an odd texture, and the piano simply sounds out of place. It's a failure in orchestration. More appropriate would have been some luxurious organ playing, as we get with Bruno Cocset's opening to his recording of BWV 659 in his release of the gamba sonatas... In the end, this is not a must-have release if you already have one or more satisfactory copies of Bach's gamba sonatas. Wispelwey is a master cellist, and brings to this recording his A-game, but there are already a lot of players in this field. I enjoy this disk, but if you're looking for a more complete package, likely Bruno Cocset offers a better value with his release on Alpha.


The Complete Organ Works of J. S. Bach