The Strad Issue: February 2016
Description: A natural approach pays dividends in three of Bach’s Cello Suites
Musicians: Joachim Eijlander (cello)
Composer: Bach

Oh no, was my initial reaction on encountering this disc – not another version of the Bach Suites! But when I began listening to the natural and unaffected delivery from Joachim Eijlander in this warm recording, that thought was immediately dispelled. The lightness of the Dutch cellist’s détaché bowing owes something to period performance, but it is a stylistic reference of articulation rather than something didactic. In essence, his approach reflects a detailed but informed, instinctive response that allows for spontaneity.

I particularly like the way the dances are characterised, with the slow metrical flow of the sarabandes giving expressive nuance to each phrase but still retaining a cogent beat. The bourrées and minuets are elegant and courtly, the gigues in contrast more robust.

Harmonies are intelligently signed – so vital in the more rhapsodic preludes. This is particularly the case in the Prelude of the First Suite, which has only two quavers among constant semiquavers. Neither obviously melodic nor rhythmic, they are shaped by Eijlander so as to project the innate drama of conflict as chromaticism yields to a resolution on the tonic harmony. Similarly, the Fourth Suite’s Prelude is delivered with a great sense of fantasy and eloquence by Eijlander.

Joanne Talbot