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Bach: Six Suites For Solo Cello, Etc / Karine Georgian, Gary Cooper

Bach,J.s. / Georgian / Cooper
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 90  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine GeorgianGary Cooper
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Wise, companionable and mature.

It is hard now to imagine a time when only a single recorded version of the unaccompanied Suites was available. Whilst I still return to those Casals recordings with immense pleasure it is always good to be able to welcome the many new versions, each shedding new light on these fascinating works. I have no idea how many are currently available or whether it has yet reached treble figures, but I do remember that as recently as 1999 a recording by Susan Sheppard (no relation) was advertised as being the first by a woman. Intriguing as that version was I remain unclear whether its virtues were in any way due to the performer’s gender. Certainly it is hard to see that its more rhetorical
Read more approach had much in common with the present version so as to suggest that there is a specifically female way of playing the Suites. On the contrary, this version shows, yet again, the extraordinary way in which they offer the player possibilities to demonstrate the range of his or her musical imagination and sensitivity. I have enormously enjoyed performances from many distinguished players of very widely differing approaches, and am very happy that Karine Georgian is now one of that number.

At the risk of making these recordings sound dull, I should begin by saying that there is no unique selling point to these discs, no oddity of performance that the reviewer can seize upon. On the contrary, what struck me throughout was the player’s wise choice as each hurdle of performance decisions was reached. Rhythms are allowed to be flexible, but not to the extent of losing touch with the essential flow of each movement. Dynamics are kept within a relatively tight rein. Repeats are taken when asked for, and although Ms Georgian clearly has a wide palette of articulation available, she uses it for essentially musical rather than showy purposes. I hesitate to use the word ‘sensible’ as that might suggest some dullness or lack of imagination in these performances, but they are sensible in presenting the essential line and character of each Suite without fuss but with great finesse. It helps that Ms Georgian’s tone is of considerable beauty and her intonation beyond reproach, and that the recording sounds close but manages to avoid picking up incidental sounds.

The Sonatas have also been the subject of many recordings in recent years, mainly using the viola da gamba rather than the cello. As this was the instrument for which they were written this is unsurprising, but it is a pleasure to hear them once again on an instrument with a greater tonal range. The problem in these works is usually one of balance and it has not entirely been solved here. Effectively they are trio sonatas, with two upper lines and a bass line - the G major Sonata does indeed exist also in a version for two flutes and continuo. If you want to be able to hear a real equality of the upper lines you have to go to that version. There is an inherent difficulty in balancing a line played on a sustaining instrument such as the cello with one played on the harpsichord. At times here the former does tend to obscure the latter. Nonetheless the balance overall is better than on many rival versions, helped by Ms Georgian’s great care over articulation and avoidance of excessive vibrato on long held notes. I thoroughly enjoyed all three works and was left wanting more. There is indeed room for more on the disc but given that the set can be obtained at a bargain price it is perhaps churlish to complain.

The enormous number of competing versions means that no one recording of either set of works could sensibly be said to be an automatic first choice. This set does nonetheless have formidable virtues. These may not be the most exciting versions of the Suites in particular, but I am not sure that excitement is an important virtue in these pieces. Much more important is sensitivity to their style and musical line, and this is something that these recordings most certainly do have. If you want a version that is wise, companionable and mature in its response to the music this is a set well worth investigating.

-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International 
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Works on This Recording

1. Suite for Cello solo no 1 in G major, BWV 1007 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
2. Suite for Cello solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
3. Suite for Cello solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1009 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
4. Suite for Cello solo no 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
5. Suite for Cello solo no 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
6. Suite for Cello solo no 6 in D major, BWV 1012 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
7. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 1 in G major, BWV 1027 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello), Gary Cooper (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
8. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 2 in D major, BWV 1028 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello), Gary Cooper (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
9. Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord no 3 in G minor, BWV 1029 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Karine Georgian (Cello), Gary Cooper (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 

Sound Samples

Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: V. Menuet I-II
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: VI. Gigue
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: V. Menuet I-II
Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008: VI. Gigue
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: V. Gavotte I-II
Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012: VI. Gigue
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: V. Bourree I-II
Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: VI. Gigue
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: V. Bourree I-II
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010: VI. Gigue
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: I. Prelude
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: II. Allemande
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: III. Courante
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: IV. Sarabande
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: V. Gavotte I-II
Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011: VI. Gigue

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