Bach Day – 3: Cello Suites/Jian Wang

Suites for unaccompanied cello – in G, BWV1007; in D minor, BWV1008; in C, BWV1009

Jian Wang (cello)

Reviewed by: Graham Rogers

Reviewed: 24 August, 2008
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

Jian WangThe best music-making of “Bach Day” was heard at this third and final instalment: a late-night recital featuring the first three of Johann Sebastian Bach’s (six) Suites for unaccompanied cello, played with rare sensitivity by Jian Wang; a relaxed and intimate nocturnal atmosphere was created.

Wang captivated with his affinity for this intense and joyous music, conveying his inspirational individual thoughts in a natural manner that never intruded on the direct simplicity of the scores. A slight shakiness in the ‘Prelude’ of the First Suite was soon forgotten as Jian Wang’s beautifully singing tone and mastery of Bach’s long melodic lines became spellbinding.

The Suites are, in essence, collections of dances – each of which was superbly characterised by Jian Wang. ‘Minuets’ and ‘Bourrées’ were nimble and jaunty (without any loss of line or sacrifice of tone); ‘Allemandes’ were poised and refined; ‘Gigues’ had grace and fluidity but impressive power too.

The heart of each Suite is a soulful ‘Sarabande’ – in Wang’s hands these were deeply intense and emotional, often ‘sung’ in a mesmerising hushed tone, but always stylish and perfectly controlled.

Supremely ethereal yet jovially down-to-earth, Jian Wang’s radiant readings of these three cello suites encapsulated the uniquely all-embracing essence of Bach’s music.

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