Whether or not the catalogue needs another version of Bach's six cello suites - there are already some 50 listed - Jean-Guihen Queyras has something distinct to offer in these protean works. Of all Bach's major solo pieces, the cello suites perhaps allow the interpreter more latitude than any others, and Queyras takes full advantage of that in his tonal variation, wide dynamic range and expressive nuances. Compared with Steven Isserlis's recent accounts on Hyperion, for instance, Queyras is much more interventionist, less inclined to allow the music to speak for itself. But what he does add to the printed text is often very exciting: sometimes he pushes the tempos to extremes, whether to generate more excitement or to squeeze out the maximum amount of expressive juice. Yet his liberties never seem wilful, because he maintains a steady tempo in the most ornate passages, or those in which Bach pushes cello technique beyond its normal limits. Queyras is always in command of what he does, and how he wants this elusive music to speak.
CD: Bach: Cello Suites, Jean-Guihen Queyras
(Harmonia Mundi, two CDs & DVD)