Cello Suites I & II
The original manuscript of Bach’s cello suites seems forever lost, so we’ll probably never know whether it bore the initials SDG (for ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ – ‘for the glory of God alone’), which the deeply religious composer scrawled on all his church music and on several of his secular works, too. What is certain, however, is that they are as profound and contemplative as any music he ever wrote. “Bach’s music”, the French pianist Alexandre Tharaud has said, “has its feet on the earth and reaches up to heaven.” Indeed: Bach’s stroke of genius here is to have turned worldly dance tunes into moments of pure abstract beauty, while also transcending the cello’s limitations by calling for odd tunings or even an extra string. The Zürich-born Christian Poltera, a bright young former pupil of Heinrich Schiff, performs the six suites over two concerts.