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This meticulous approach, which boils down to a labour of love going far beyond the call of duty, paid off in terms of CD sales and critics' praise. Pergamenschikow's Bach suites have received the best of reviews. One reviewer wrote: 'Pergamenschikow's interpretation of Bach's Cello Suites stands above those of Starker, Ma, Casals, Rostropovich, Bylsma and Maisky. His rubato is carefully judged, perfectly capturing a sense of Baroque fantasy as opposed to the mere Romantic gratuitousness of Maisky and Rostropovich (not to mention some of Starker's very odd tempo distortions). Like the period performance recordings (Bylsma, Wispelwey and ter Linden), Pergamenschikow projects short sub-phrases, yet he never loses a sense of the long line.'

The same reviewer goes on to write: 'He uses a wider range of dynamics and articulation than the period performance people (who often fall back on a rather bland legato), yet it's always within the bounds of good taste. Pergamenschikow phrases with eloquence, and carefully judged vibrato usually reserved for points of tension and arrival in harmony and register, without degrading into Romantic breast-beating. Best of all, Pergamenschikow adds embellishments that sound stylistic and convincing. His interpretation is both scholarly and passionate, poised yet displaying great love for this incomparable music.'

Another reviewer paid the ultimate compliment to the Russian cellist when he wrote: 'Mr Pergamenschikow has recorded what is perhaps the most luminous account of the suites for solo cello. I have listened to at least nine different performances and have sold my other recordings after hearing this set. I would recommend this set above Casals, Rostropovich, Bylsma, Starker, and Ma.'

Pergamenschikow's long and tedious study of the score, and his detective approach to unravelling its mysteries, may even mean that if you haven't heard this then you don't know what the Bach Cello Suites are really about. The Russian described playing Bach's cello suites as something that is 'probably a never-ending developmental and learning process' while at the same time pointing out that 'I don't believe that the cello suites were primarily intended for instructional purposes like many of the clavier works. They are rather a kind of glass bead game, music that cleanses the soul, especially if you play it just for yourself, preferably without any audience.'

How good that Haenssler Classics grants us the privilege to be there and listen to Pergamenschikow's soul-cleansing, because a bit of that cleansing effect rubs off on the listener each time [listen -- CD2 track 6, 1:05-2:38].

Copyright © 21 September 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


Bach Suites for Solo Cello - Boris Pergamenschikow

CD 92.120 DDD Stereo (2 CDs) 55'08"/72'44" - TT 127'52" 1998 Haenssler Classic

Boris Pergamenschikow, cello

J S Bach: Suite No 1 in G Major BWV 1007; Suite No 2 in D Minor BWV 1008; Suite No 3 in C Major BWV 1009; Suite No 4 in E flat Major BWV 1010; Suite No 5 in C Minor BWV 1011; Suite No 6 in D Major BWV 1012


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