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SACD Review

Johann Sebastian Bach

EMI 62879

Cello Suites

  • Suite #1 for Solo Cello in G Major, BWV 1007
  • Suite #2 for Solo Cello in D minor, BWV 1008
  • Suite #3 for Solo Cello in C Major, BWV 1009
  • Suite #4 for Solo Cello in E Flat Major, BWV 1010
  • Suite #5 for Solo Cello in C minor, BWV 1011
  • Suite #6 for Solo Cello in D Major, BWV 1012
Paul Tortelier, cello
EMI Great Recordings of the Century 62879 2CDs
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.com
Mercury Living Presence Hybrid SACD 470644
  • Suite #1 for Solo Cello in G Major, BWV 1007
  • Suite #2 for Solo Cello in D minor, BWV 1008
  • Suite #3 for Solo Cello in C Major, BWV 1009
  • Suite #4 for Solo Cello in E Flat Major, BWV 1010
  • Suite #5 for Solo Cello in C minor, BWV 1011
  • Suite #6 for Solo Cello in D Major, BWV 1012
  • Sonata for Cello & Piano in G Major, BWV 1027
  • Sonata for Cello & Piano in D minor, BWV 1028
János Starker, cello
György Sebõk, piano
Mercury Living Presence Hybrid SACD 470644-2
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon JapanOrder Now from ArkivMusic.com

In a nutshell, I liked Tortelier immensely but didn't care for Starker at all. I wrote various rough drafts, too many of them sarcastic. The thing is, there is not really a lot more to say, but I suppose you'd like a reason.

At the end of the interview with Dan Rather, Stokowski says, "Emotion, life… or lifeless." That is exactly what I feel as I listen to these two recordings. Tortelier invests every note with emotion. It is not like the emotion you hear from Casals or Rostropovich. Their playing has an earthiness to it, an intensity that is awesome. Tortelier is more aristocratic for lack of a better term. His sound is lush and warm with air around the music. I must have hit the repeat a dozen times listening to the Prelude to Suite #3.

When I turned to Starker it was something else, completely unlike Tortelier, Casals or Rostropovich. I read a comment in the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs that referred to Starker's "intellectual strength". I think that is the problem here. There is no doubt about his command of the music but he seems to stay on the surface. It is 'lifeless".

Both discs use the latest technology in their remasterings. The Tortelier is part of the GROC series and I have commented before how the "ART" process produces excellent sound. The Starker release is a Hybrid SACD disc, but the CD sound is dry.

That's all folks.

Copyright © 2004, Robert Stumpf II

Trumpet