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Bach: Cello Suites / Luigi Piovano


Release Date: 10/12/2010 
Label:  Eloquentia   Catalog #: 1021   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Spoken WordJohann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 38 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A stunning recording of the Six Cello Suites of Bach. It has it all: beauty of sound, musical intelligence and emotional depth.

Luigi Piovano‘s recording of Bach’s Six Suites is a treat for those who love this composer and this instrument. Too often the suites are made tedious by hefty, Romantically-derived performances. Those who find the historically informed performance school too austere, however, need have no fears about this performance. It features playing of great beauty and expressiveness, the product of a very sound technique and a profound musical intelligence.

The Six Suites follow the same structure of a Prelude followed by dance movements: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue. Each
Read more suite also includes a pair of “new dances” in between the Sarabande and Gigue; Minuets in Suites nos. 1 and 2, Bourrées in nos. 3 and 4, and Gavottes in nos. 5 and 6. Although uniform in structure, emotionally the suites are remarkably diverse, and form a rich musical tapestry that defies easy description. Listening to this recording I was reminded of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, progressing from pride in his worldly success as a young painter, to the worn and haunted face towards the end of his life. The Bach Cello suites traverse an equivalent range of emotion in the composer’s life.

Luigi Piovano is a young Italian cellist who is a member of the Baroque group Concerto Italiano. He plays nos. 1-5 of the Suites on a Gofriller of around 1720. The 6 th suite is played on a William Foster (or Forster) III 5 string instrument that has a more silvery, reedy quality to its top register. I am guessing he used gut strings from the warmth of his sound, which is evident from the first track. Although many features of this recording reflect historical performance practice, this is no “hair shirt” exercise. Piovano’s tone is extremely attractive, and full-blooded where appropriate. The beautiful sounds he achieves are not an end in themselves, however, but are always at the service of what is going on in the music.

Throughout the dynamics are extremely varied and beautifully managed. Piovano often begins a phrase quite softly, adding bow weight and intensity as it develops. Chords are usually eased into rather than thumped out. Rubato is used occasionally and tastefully, and ornamentation is rare. Speeds are brisk-ish but never sound rushed, and Piovano points the rhythms nicely. One instance that I noted in particular is the Gigue from the final Suite, where he mixes elegantly stepping rhythms with rustic-sounding double-stops to bring the cycle to a satisfying conclusion. His intonation is uniformly excellent.

Some might find Piovano’s tonal range a bit soft in the grain; he doesn’t play into the string as much as Bylsma, for example. However - and for me this is a big plus - his sound does not tire the ear. The recording sounds very natural: the venue is not named - other than being in Montepulciano - but one might guess a small church or chapel, as the acoustic is quite lively. The final two tracks on CD 2 are spoken word versions of the liner notes, in English and French respectively. Listeners who do not want to be startled by this breaking into their post-Sixth Suite reverie are advised to program their CD player accordingly.

-- Guy Aron, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Liner Notes by Spoken Word
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 11 Minutes 31 Secs. 
2.
Texte de présentation by Spoken Word
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 9 Minutes 3 Secs. 
3.
Suite for Cello solo no 1 in G major, BWV 1007 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 13 Minutes 12 Secs. 
4.
Suite for Cello solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 15 Minutes 40 Secs. 
5.
Suite for Cello solo no 3 in C major, BWV 1009 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 16 Minutes 38 Secs. 
6.
Suite for Cello solo no 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 18 Minutes 22 Secs. 
7.
Suite for Cello solo no 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 20 Minutes 7 Secs. 
8.
Suite for Cello solo no 6 in D major, BWV 1012 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Luigi Piovano (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/2008 
Venue:  Montepulciano 
Length: 26 Minutes 10 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
  Outstndingly musical Performances January 22, 2014 By R James Tobin (Sheboygan, WI) See All My Reviews "In the course of hearing these performances repeatedly, in comparison with recorded performances by Casals, Starker, Fournier, Rostropovich and Yo-Yo Ma, I have managed to get clear on what I want in performances of these important works. I also came to decide that I like what Piovano does, very much indeed. The absence in my comparisons of cellists notably identified with "historically informed" performance practice is duly noted. Please do notice, though, that Piovano's uses a five-stringed cello from 1795 in Suite Six, as specified by Bach. Even aside from the limitations of my sample, there is considerable variation among interpretations of these suites. There is no "standard" approach from which individual instrumentalists vary. ArkivMusic lists between 134 and 182 recordings of each of these suites. It would surely drive anyone mad who attempted to compare the six movements of each suite to all of the performances. This said, prior to hearing Piovano, my first preference among the versions I knew was Starker, for his vigor, clarity and pace. Fournier has a subtlety that I have newly recognized, but his approach is too gentle for me. The early recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Rostropovich, superb as they may be in other repertoire, disappointed me. Ma's performances I found too unrelenting and unvaried, and the youthful Rostropovich did not sound good to me at all. (I have not heard their later versions.) So. Here is what I particularly want in these suites: First, audible recognition that all of Bach's movements following the initial Preludes are dance forms; Next, clearly articulated and compelling phrasing – not an unvaried succession of notes; Third, subtle dynamic flexibility to add and maintain interest in the phrasing. To my ears, Piovano's interpretations meet my requirements to an exceptional degree. When I listen to him play, I can visualize dances – not necessarily 18th century ones – that a choreographer might devise, sometimes with gentle swaying. From his instruments flow a wide range of expressive sounds, from a deep growl to quite a light touch, as I particularly noted in the Bouree of Suite 4. In the sixth suite, for the five-stringed cello (and which incidentally the least recorded) there are quite unusual sonorities. The recording venue was a church in Montepulciano in Tuscany, which will have had some effect on the recorded sound. Piovano's phrasing is vigorous and varied; he gives emphasis to the notes that complete phrases or cadences, so that they are resonant rather than pinched; it seems to me that this helps make his interpretation danceable. Piovano's musical speech is well-modulated (as in a verbal sense) through dynamic subtlety rather than obtrusive tempo variation. Piovano does not introduce the kinds of pause that one can hear Casals make. Luigi Piovano is the First Soloist Cello of the Symphony Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. In sum, I find these satisfyingly musical performances. For those who might agree with my criteria, a highly recommended release. This is, for me, a "desert island" selection. Copyright © 2011, R. James Tobin" Report Abuse
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