J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Suites for Cello Solo

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Pieter Wispelwey
Individual Works:Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007
Suite No. 2 in d minor, BWV 1008
Suite No. 3 in C, BWV 1009
Suite No. 4 in E flat, BWV 1010
Suite No. 5 in c minor, BWV 1011
Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Channel Classics
Catalog Number:CCS 1090
Year Released/Recorded:1990
Total Playing Time:67'23 & 72'24
Comments:Hanno Strydom said:

Finally we have a cellist performing on period instruments (baroque-cello and violoncello piccolo) who can more than match the technical refinement of most modern cellists. There are far too many recordings of these suites available by "great" cellists (Tortellier, Rostropovich, Ma) who plough through them as if playing Dvorak - and all of Bach's incredible shapes are lost in the resulting mush. Wispelwey's recordings are a revelation - everything is crystal clear. I simply cannot recommend these recordings more strongly - they're a must.

Karel Vanderbeke said:

A very authentic and personal recording and at he same time extremely transparent. Wispelwey has gained a lot of extra maturity which he combines with technical virtuosity. The whole recording sounds as though it were a story.

The Serious Listener said:

Everyone has their own interpretations of what Bach was trying to do with the cello suites. The way I see it is like the Paganini caprices for violin û experiments in music composition and exercises for the musician. These concepts of lyrical studies, polyphonics, textures and workout regimes are for the practitioner to develop oneself in the music profession. Practice these along with your other exercises and there wont be anything you cannot handle û as a composer or performer.

I see Pieter Wispelwey as the dedicated mindful musician who is playing these pieces as the exercises that they were meant be. No flashy showmanship. Pure technique combined with the necessary artistry to keep the music authentic. Pieter is completely patient with each passage.

A 31-page pamphlet accompanies the CD. Three languages occupy about 9 pages each, discussing the works and the performing artist. But at the end of the discussions, Pieter adds a delightfully insightful message that is well worth reading over.

The recording is very close, the microphones pick up any nuance and resonance of everything in the Valkkoog church û the bow, the strings, the wood floor, the finger work, even Pieter breathing. Add to this the ambiance of a country church for some slight natural echo and we have an exquisite recording. The detail within this CD will place a top-notch musician and his instrument right smack-dab in the middle of your listening room.

The reproduced audio spectra as recorded are intact in the playback. The especially difficult lower registers are splendidly captured. A solid amplifier with the proper speakers will have no trouble in fooling you into believing that a cellist is actually before you. Oh, and check out PieterÆs double stop technique. Most impressive!

Jordan Sayers said:

This is Wispelwey's 1st recording of the cello suites. Although I concur with the descriptions given in the other reviews, and find this to be a good recording, I much prefer his second effort, also on Channel Classics (recorded 1998, catalog number CCS 12298). His first recording has, in my opinion, more "noise" which can be distracting. Yes, this is an excellant artist and a good listen, but I much prefer his 1998 recording.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Hanno Strydom
  • Karel Vanderbeke
  • The Serious Listener
  • Jordan Sayers
Date First Submitted:02/28/1998