Richard Tunnicliffe - J.S. Bach: Cello Suites - Words and Music

Baroque cellist Tunnicliffe takes a pair of instruments from the 1720s for a gentle swing through Bach's six solo dance suites in numerical order, because the composer's sequence, increasing in complexity, is good enough for him. He is a considerate partner, neither hurrying his elderly German and French embraces, nor tarrying too long on the parquet. Puritan modesty is his approach - he's a bass viol player in another world. Caressing their gut produces voluminous bass resonance and a thick, treacley tenor. His replacement squeeze for the last dance has a bitter, wiry voice with excitable overtones in its extra string. With familiarity encouraged by the relaxed Baroque tuning, Tunnicliffe treats the dances as old friends rather than revered masterpieces, surrounding them with warmth, not sacrosanct haloes. The climactic semitone ascent in the opening prelude is restrained. The emotional highpoint is No5's simple, confessional Sarabande which Tunnicliffe renders with pity in every carefully placed note. The cliff on the cover is surely a visual joke on his name, as well as an evocation of the natural, unadorned, almost sombre beauty he elicits in his Bach.

Music and Words
01 March 2012