The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Maxim Rysanov (viola)
Composer: Bach

Although the booklet lists the three suites included in this recording in ascending numerical order, the CD starts with the full-bodied E flat major arpeggiations of Suite no.4. Seldom can they have been more sonorous than in Maxim Rysanov’s hands, who gives the impression of operating some sort of sustaining pedal, so prominently do the overtones ring, and so well caught are they in this amazingly life-like SACD recording. Throughout the whole CD, Rysanov plays almost exclusively in the first position and uses open strings wherever possible, making for uncommon clarity in the music’s implied polyphony. He plays Suite no.5 in the original scordatura tuning, which – apart from allowing some otherwise unplayable chords – effectively underlines the piece’s dark C minor colouring. After it, no.1 is like going back into the sun again.

In the dance movements, Rysanov is always conscious of the music’s choreographic potential, and he varies the repeats nicely, too. I especially like his touching in of the bass notes in the E flat major Sarabande, sometimes going back to the top note, sometimes not, while always keeping an amiably ‘walking’ pace. Contrastingly, the C minor Sarabande is spun out on a thread of tone, understandably showing off the qualities of Rysanov’s Giuseppe Guadagnini viola.

Carlos Marìa Solare