Bach’s six suites for solo cello are cornerstones of the repertoire, and since Casals, they’ve been championed by a host of the world’s greatest virtuoso cellists. The intimacy of the suites, their arcs and lines, and general architecture, are familiar to a great many listeners. There are countless recordings, ranging in interpretation of phrasing, bowing, and tempo, and each connoisseur will have their favourite. But none will have experienced a reinterpretation quite like Umberto Clerici’s.
In Suite Cubed, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra principal cellist adopts the general blueprint of the original suites, forming two new suites pieced together from various solo works from the 17th through to the 20th centuries. Bach’s music is treated as a kind of platform for exploring the experience of a solo cello suite: its pacing, progression of tempi and mood, dance character, and dramatic flow.
From this familiar territory, Clerici charts a new course, weaving lines into unexpected places in this fascinating approach to musical curation, a kind of contemporary meditation on one of the Baroque’s most popular genres.
Clerici’s playing is soulful, robust, and beautifully sculpted. In the first Suite Cubed, in D, he springs from Bach’s resonant and buoyant D...