Richard Narroway

Cello Suites 
Richard Narroway
Sono Luminus SLE70010

Given that the Cello Suites are a core part of the instrument’s repertoire, cellists are faced with a mountain of questions to answer before playing a single note. What edition to use? Baroque instrument and bow, or modern? Vibrato? Narroway argues that most of these questions are ultimately moot, writing that “the most important thing is that the spirit of the music comes to life”.

It’s definitely a brave thing to record the complete Bach Cello Suites for your debut CD, but it seems like that’s Richard Narroway’s forte. You might recall his tour around Australia, which saw him performing these same suites and a few extra pieces in some unlikely concert locations. Among others, Narroway performed the music of Bach in an Adelaide coffee shop, a Melbourne jail, and in front of Uluru – not the usual places at all! Those experiences have certainly given his performances an air of confidence and decisiveness. He draws out the exquisite melancholy of the minor suites (No 2 and No 5) without deteriorating into mawkishness, and dives into the fiendishly tricky Suite No 6 in D with absolute glee.

Complete sets of the Bach Cello Suites are a particularly crowded field. So, while I can’t recommend this one above and beyond any of the classics (I can’t go past Steven Isserlis’s 2007 recording), it’s nonetheless a very good debut. If you need a new Australian take on the Suites, you’d do well to choose this.

Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine