Does style matter in unaccompanied Bach? This may seem an almost sacrilegious question, but I think strong feeling is far more important than style.
Apart from the fact that no one knows exactly what baroque style was, there is no such thing as perfect interpretation. Like Shakespeare – Bach is good enough to cope with any number of imaginative ideas.The key thing is to have creative ideas and project them strongly.
What makes a performance hold the attention?
There are so many wonderful performances on unaccompanied Bach around, and each one is different. Those using early instruments could be said to be more authentic – but what value is style if you don’t feel the music that way? Who says Bach would not have loved rubato and passion, and didn’t play like this himself? Listen to Casals’ performance of Bach and the idea of authenticity goes out of the window. Ultimately you can only play as you are and be guided by what is true to you.
The 5th Cello Suite
I will be recording Bach’s 5th suite for unaccompanied cello in a few weeks so all this is very much on my mind. You can purchase the my cd of the 1st and 3rd suites here
Here are some superb , but very different – recordings.