One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Suite for solo cello No. 4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 (1717-23) [27:00]
Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord No. 3 in G minor, BWV 1029 (1720) [15:48]
Suite for cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 (1717-23) [19:39]
Shirley Hunt (baroque cello and viola da gamba)
Ian Pritchard (harpsichord).
rec. 2014, location not specified

With a little over an hour of Bach’s compositions for cello and viola da gamba performed exquisitely by Shirley Hunt, this CD is the first series to feature Bach’s cello suites and viola da gamba sonatas side by side, recorded by the same artist. With commendable technical felicity and imaginative spark, Hunt is luminescent in her delightful debut solo recording. The sound quality is excellent.
Bach’s cello suites have been performed by the finest cellists. Long gone are the times when these pieces were considered primarily for exercise and practice. They are now regarded as the cornerstone of the cello repertoire. Perhaps the most noticeable figure for performing these suites in an almost ritualistic fashion, performing one each day as part of his practice, is Pablo Casals (Naxos 8.110915-16; EMI transfer reviewed here). The main difference between Hunt and Casals lies in the tonal qualities, as Hunt uses a 1775 William Foster Sr. baroque cello. In general, Hunt’s bowing tends to weigh a little heavier on the strings; this can be heard most clearly in the Courante of the fourth suite where a more lithe approach would lift this joyous piece. However, both share a boldness and romanticism. On this CD, Hunt’s recording of the fourth suite is rich, captivating and full-bodied. This is technically demanding — the key of E-flat means that the cellist has to use many extended left hand positions to make the transitions smooth and seamless. Hunt combines intelligent phrasing with liberating zest. There is depth and density in the Sarabande which is taken at a very slow pace; slower than Casals. The outcome is a longing and languorous sound. Hunt’s Gigue is appropriately jig-like, but remains a little weighed down due to her slurred bowing.
Interspersing the fourth and first cello suites there is a sparkling performance of Bach’s Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord (played by Ian Pritchard) No. 3 in G minor. This operates as a refreshing interlude. Resoundingly sociable and conversational, Hunt and Pritchard are crisp and cheerful in their mastery of the exciting cascades and intriguing counterpoint. The opening of the Vivace is accorded to the bass viol. As for the the Adagio (in the key of B flat major) two upper parts are allowed to interweave forming a wistful gossamer. This is capped by a fitful, flourishing Allegro which gives command to the harpsichord and reaches its ending amid both tension and repose. You can hear more from Ian Pritchard —an undoubtedly talented performer — do seek out his first solo CD of 16th Century Venetian virginal music entitled L’arpicordo. It is on Morphic Resonance Music.
Returning with Bach’s charmingly familiar arpeggio-chords in the Prelude to the first cello suite in G major; Hunt is secure and content throughout. A little more contemplative quietude would have suited her highly redolent style as some runs in the Allemande lose their connection to the piece as a whole. In the first Menuet Hunt tends to glide over the G major chord which needs to be bowed so that each note is enjoined. It must be noted that Hunt’s tight phrasing remains distinctive, particularly in the fourth suite. I particularly like her pace and crispness for the Courante which is pithy and light-hearted. An impressive warmth and creaminess comes through the cello, making listening to this suite seem like an indulgence. The sorrowful Sarabande is played with profound sincerity; one thinks of Mary’s lamenting face in Michelangelo’s Pieta. Finishing with Bach’s charming Gigue, Hunt mixes elegance with frivolity.

Lucy Jeffery

Masterwork Index: Cello suites