Angela East

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich early music venue King of Hearts had a capacity audience for a recital that offered a solo performance of just two compositions in the same form that were both the work of the same composer.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Norwich early music venue King of Hearts had a capacity audience for a recital that offered a solo performance of just two compositions in the same form that were both the work of the same composer. But he was Johann Sebastian Bach, and it was Angela East who was playing his Cello Suites. That explained everything.

Just a glance before she began to play told a lot. Since her cello had no spike, she grasped it between her calves, as if this was a viola da gamba, and the short fingerboard too, told us that this was a baroque instrument.

Depth of tone was the feature of Bach's Fifth Suite. Partly this was accounted for by the special tuning of the strings that Bach called for. But the cellist was plainly content with darker shades. For listeners, there were moments when it was eavesdropping on deeply personal meditations, with every note considered on its merits.


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For the First Suite the mood changed. It was particularly interesting to hear the soloist bringing out the differences without altering her basic concept of the correct musical style here. The Prelude was brighter and more vigorous, and the following movements retained the spirit of the dance, but the development still had the complex elaboration and emotional richness characteristic of Bach.

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