Pity the poor violist, stuck between the violinist – proud owner of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas – and the cellist, who can boast the equally wonderful Cello Suites. It’s hardly surprising that a little pilfering would go on.
So the motivation for ‘borrowing’ the Cello Suites is understandable. But how well do they work? Do these Suites lose something of their majesty, their depth (in a movement such as the Sarabande of the C major Suite) or their very particular timbre (eg the glorious wave of sound with which the D major Suite begins) on the higher-voiced instrument? Emphatically not in Maxim Rysanov’s hands.
Rysanov brings so much colour, so much finesse, so much rhythmic élan to these works that it’s impossible not to be won over. So complete is his technical assurance that in the Sixth Suite he eschews the usual practice of transposing it so it sits more comfortably within the viola’s range and instead leaves it in the original key of D major. It’s a real test for the player but does emphasise Bach’s soaring lines very potently. Rysanov makes the most technically effortful of music sound effortless and BIS have captured his sound beautifully. A glorious disc.