The Cello Suites - Petrit Çeku

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH - The Cello Suites - Petrit Çeku (Guitar) - Hybrid SACD 2-Disc Set - 8436551170176 - Released: May 2016 - Eudora EUD-SACD-1602

The more I listen to this impressive new recording, and I've listened to it at least once a day now over the last month or so, the stronger my conviction grows that maybe, just maybe, dear old Johann might have settled on the wrong instrument for which to write these wonderful Suites. I understand that his prime intent was to publish them as Studies with which cellists could hone and improve their technique, and as such, they've certainly proven to be effective. But from a listener's perspective, I have to admit that, as expressive and warm the sound of the cello can be, under the wrong hands it can quickly become dull as dishwater. The classical guitar on the other hand, with its bright, open and dynamic characteristics, is less conducive to creating ear fatigue.

Albanian classical guitarist Petrit Çeku, who's been collecting awards and first prizes left and right, scales this Everest of the repertoire with apparent ease. But based on his inspired interpretation, you can tell that an enormous extent of work has gone into this recording. His technique is impeccable, and as such, he's free to bring out the expressive character of the music with deep conviction. The pathos he lends a Sarabande, the bite he gives the strings in a Courante, or the energy he brings to a Bourrée, are all trademarks of not only an excellent guitarist, but also of a great musician. He also defines the separate lines of the discourse very well, always highlighting the important signposts along the way. Exceptional playing captured with great clarity.

I believe this could be one of those desert island discs you keep hearing about.

Jean-Yves Duperron - May 2016