Markku Luolajan-Mikkola - J.S. Bach: Complete Sonatas & Partitas - The Strad

If the six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are, in Enescu's words, ‘the Himalayas of violinists', then playing the entire set transcribed for Baroque cello must represent an extra day's trek at least, probably barefoot. After 40 years of immersing himself in the Cello Suites, the Finnish cellist, violist and gambist Markku Luolajan-Mikkola has risen to the challenge, and carries off this technical tour de force with impressive strength and dexterity.

Whether it is a wise musical choice is another matter. The violin works have more black notes, more double-stopping and far denser counterpoint than the Cello Suites. Although simpler movements like the Gigue of Partita no.3 are still delightful, others suffer in the lower tessitura.Luolajan-Mikkola plays a Baroque cello of c.1700 by Barak Norman with gut strings. Close miking and skilful recording capture the strings' earthy sound and ensure none of the rapid low notes are lost.

The Strad
26 May 2016