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Bach: Six Suites For Solo Cello / Torleif Thedéen


Release Date: 06/28/2000 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 803/4   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello stand at the pinnacle of the repertoire, and every cellist has to confront them. The problems they pose--both technical and musical--are unsurpassed by any other works, and although for 200 years they were relegated to the practice studio, today there are nearly as many recordings available for the suites as there are for Dvorák's beloved Cello Concerto. The excellent Swedish cellist Torleif Thedéen throws his hat into the ring with this two-disc set of the complete suites (although I believe that some of these were available on a single disc a few years ago).


His competition is as fierce as it gets: He has to contend not only with
Read more the reigning cello deities (Yo-Yo Ma on Sony--he's done it twice!--and Mstislav Rostropovich on EMI) but also with the famous Pablo Casals (EMI and Pearl), who is responsible for bringing the suites to the public's attention more than 80 years ago. He even has to compete with some of his teachers--Franz Helmerson, Heinrich Schiff, and Paul Tortelier. To add to the heat, there also are a few recordings from the period performance crowd, a couple of which (Pieter Wispelwey on Channel--also done twice--and Jaap ter Linden on Harmonia Mundi) are absolute gems.



Thedéen proves himself the equal of just about any of these. There are basically no technical challenges for him, and his tone is noble yet subservient to the music when required. He produces a fairly wide array of colors for the different moods in the suites, and gets the appropriate dance meters just right. BIS' usual full, natural sound puts the listener in the right place as well.


Thedéen plays the Preludes to each Suite for what they really are--toccata-like fantasies with a free vision, an interpretation that's lacking in most other recordings. He clearly has absorbed much from the lessons of the period performance school, and makes judicious use of this knowledge. While he uses what technically is a period instrument--a gorgeous 1711 Tecchler--it is set up with modern strings and action, and he uses a modern bow. However, he applies the best aspects of authentic practice. For instance, his vibrato is used everywhere as it was meant to be in the old days--as an ornament used sparingly and with taste--not the constant wobbling employed by so many modern players. His bowing also is very much of the period--fewer slurs to blur the lines. The G major Prelude (Suite No. 1) is done with separate bowings, creating much more of a hypnotic forward motion than we usually hear.


Thedéen does not use a five-string cello for the brilliant D major Suite (No. 6) as do Wispelwey and others, but his playing is still bright and clean, most notably in the special Allemande. He does, though, use the proper scordatura in the C minor Suite (No. 5), which some modern players ignore. This makes the instrument resonate differently and brings out the true colors of the key signature, especially in the amazing fugue of the Prelude and the two Gavottes. In all, there is basically no reason to have any other modern-instrument performance, as Thedéen's playing is the equal of anybody and his interpretation makes an engaging and worthy alternative to the others in the catalog. Only Wispelwey with his gut strings and almost organ-like resonance reaches further, into his own special world.
--david preiser, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Cello solo no 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1995 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 24 Minutes 6 Secs. 
2. Suite for Cello solo no 1 in G major, BWV 1007 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1996 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 16 Minutes 21 Secs. 
3. Suite for Cello solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1009 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1995 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 23 Minutes 28 Secs. 
4. Suite for Cello solo no 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/1996 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 25 Minutes 2 Secs. 
5. Suite for Cello solo no 6 in D major, BWV 1012 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/1999 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 29 Minutes 20 Secs. 
6. Suite for Cello solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Torleif Thedéen (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1996 
Venue:  Länna Church, Sweden 
Length: 21 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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