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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - The Cello Suites Revisited

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - The Six Cello Suites Revisited - Toke Møldrup (Cello) - 2-Disc Set - 090404950322 - Released: December 2017 - Bridge Records BRIDGE 9503A/B

"Apart from versatile solo projects and concerts in Denmark and abroad, cellist Toke Møldrup enjoys a career as solo cellist of the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra and is a sought-after teacher at The Royal Danish Academy of Music. On this recording he plays a David Tecchler cello (Rome, 1697) for Suites 1-5, and a mid-18th century Italian cello, rebuilt as a 5-string cello in 2016 by luthier Birger Kulmbach for the Suite No. 6 and Suite 1 Revisited." {Bridge Records}

If he was slightly heavier and wore a powdered wig, it would be hard to differentiate between this cover picture and the iconic image of the master himself used on many books and album covers. The clothes he's wearing, the way he's holding the sheet of music and especially his facial expression well replicate the original. I love this album cover.

Numerous recordings of the Bach Cello Suites have been released over the years, and yet only a limited few, in my opinion, qualify as a worthwhile listening experience. Too many suffer from a lack of true musicianship, and feature a skilled person playing the cello but not the music. It doesn't matter how well you've mastered an instrument, if you can't project and express music properly through that instrument, then what's the point. The Bach Cello Suites in particular are compositions meant to be performed, because of their wide tonal and expressive range, via a cello, and not on a cello. There's a huge difference between the two points of view. And Toke Møldrup shares this opinion when he says: "To me personally, however, the most important thing is the word instrument itself: a means, a machine that - correctly used - is capable of channeling music out into the world." Now isn't that exactly what being a musician is all about.

His playing is rich, elegant, warm and especially redolent of the Baroque style. He has a way of isolating the melodic line from its underlying bass support, and of accentuating the key harmonic notes, which always translates into a profoundly musical experience. You can feel his bow against the strings rather than hear it. The recording itself, engineered by Viggo Mangor is close and warm, with precisely the right proportion of tangible air around it for a realistic on-stage presence.

The reason why this CD includes the term "Revisited" in its title is because it features the world première recording of the Suite No. 1 reworked by Viggo Mangor (also a musician, teacher and musicologist) for a Baroque chamber ensemble which includes Elisabeth Zeuthen Schneider on violin, Kirstine Zeuthen Schneider on violin, Viggo Mangor on chamber organ and of course Toke Møldrup on cello. I use the term "reworked" because it utilizes only the skeletal backbone of Bach's music and in doing so generates a whole new piece that sounds fresh and is devoid of clichés. It's like hearing a newly discovered Baroque composition for the first time. Now that's what I call an added bonus.

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2018