Bach Cello Suites vol. 1 (2015)


Joachim Eijlander

Joachim Eijlander in conversation with Dominy Clements, excerpt:

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suites á Violoncello Solo senza Basso have acquired a remarkable performance tradition from Pablo casals onwards. do you take particular stance with regard to this rich resource of musical ancestry, or have you taken a purist view, looking at the scores as far as possible in a spirit of individualistic research?

Reading this question, i immediately think of answers that touch so many sides and topics of the suites by Bach. Since casals, we can listen to many many beautiful recordings of famous and also less famous cellists; there is so much research by musicians, their teachers, violin makers and musicologists available... this is so wonderful! i feel that every question and every thought about the cello suites by Bach seems to be connected with another one. there is something magic about thinking about the suites; the image of taking a long close look into a gemstone in sunlight comes to mind. you can always find new reflections in it. about the playing tradition, it is somehow ambiguous to speak in these terms. casals taught the suites in a meticulous way to his students, but at the same time he was always searching and finding something new about them. i believe that the suites guided the artistic development of so many great artists.  (read the entire conversation in the booklet, which you can download on the left hand side of this page)

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Joachim Eijlander

Joachim Eijlander, born 1975, received his first cellolessons from the Czech cellist Jan Hollinger. After finishing his studies in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Berlin, he settled as a musician in Rotterdam. He performed with the most distinguished musicians like Inon Barnatan, Karl Leister and Zuill Bailey.

Joachim is co-founder of the Rubens Quartet, an internationally celebrated string quartet. With this ensemble, he performs all over the world. Joachim taught cello and chambermusic at various conservatories, music universities as well as international music festivals in Europe and the United States. Together with Anastasia Safonova, Joachim performs the sonata-repertoire for cello and piano.

Thanks to the “Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds”, the dutch national music instrument foundation, Joachim plays on a beautiful Gaetano Chiocchi cello (Padova 1870) and with an exceptional bow made by Nikolaus Kittel (St.Petersburg 1860).

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Bach Cello Suites vol. 1 (2015)


Joachim Eijlander

    Musicweb International

Composed around 1720 when Bach was working as Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen, the Six Cello Suites form part of a group of secular works which were penned by the composer around this time. Not being in the service of the Church, he devoted his energies to these Suites, the solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas, the Brandenburg Concertos and the two books of the Well-Tempered Clavier. For the cellist they are staple fare and the catalogue boasts many fine cycles. I return to them often and, together with the Violin Sonatas and Partitas, find them both intellectually stimulating and aesthetically satisfying. All six of the suites are in six movements and follow the pattern of prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets, bourrées or gavottes, and a gigue. The cycle here gets off to a good start with a beautifully shaped account of the Prelude of the Suite No. 1 in G major. There’s no tedium or rhythmic flaccidity here; everything is idiomatically phrased. The Courante has energy and buoyancy and the Minuets have an attractive simplicity and innocence. Similarly, there’s no hint of monotony in the regular unbroken eighth-note arpeggiations of the Prelude to the Fourth Suite in E flat major. Rather there is a feel of abandon and pliancy. The exquisite Sarabande has a heartfelt expressive longing in Eijlander’s fervid delivery. When I encounter a new cycle of the Suites, I go immediately to the Fifth Suite, which has always been my favourite. Eijlander doesn’t disappoint. The opening Prelude is austere and profound and the performance has a probing intensity. The Sarabande, one of only four movements in the complete cycle that contains no chords, is a wistful, lonely voice expressing sorrow and sadness. In this performance the pain is tangible and makes a striking emotional impact. The Suite No. 6 in D major is larger in scale than the others. It was composed for a five-stringed instrument, giving the performer a wider pitch range. Although Eijlander stays with his four-stringed cello, this presents no problems and the performance is technically confident, with intonation up to the mark. The Allemande won me over immediately with its warmth and spontaneity; music being created on the wing. Similarly attractive is the way the cellist crisply articulates the Courante and the Gavottes. There’s joy, exuberance and delight in the swagger of the concluding Gigue. The light, detached bowing and clear textures reveal period performance influence, something the cellist is at pains to stress in the booklet interview. Eijlander plays a cello by Gaetano Chiocchi (Padua, 1870), which has a rich warm tone. From it he draws plenty of colour. His bow is a Nikolaus Kittel (St. Petersburg, 1860). The spacious, resonant acoustic of the Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem is ideal for this music in allowing contrapuntal lines and detail to be clearly heard and presented to the best advantage. The notes of both volumes feature discussions between Joachim Eijlander and MusicWeb International reviewer Dominy Clements. These focus on the influences that have helped shape the interpretations, and the technical and interpretive challenges the Suites throw up including the ‘scordatura’ re-tuning of the Fifth Suite. I’ll leave the last word to Eijlander: "The suites as a whole are for me the most beautiful pieces of music that were ever composed for cello. I [have] listened over and over to them since I was a young child and I feel that playing the suites [was] the main reason why I wanted to become a professional cellist.

Stephen Greenbank

    The Strad

"The lightness of the Dutch cellist’s détaché bowing owes something to period performance, but it is a stylistic reference of articulation rather than something didactic. In essence, his approach reflects a detailed but informed, instinctive response that allows for spontaneity. I particularly like the way the dances are characterised, with the slow metrical flow of the sarabandes giving expressive nuance to each phrase but still retaining a cogent beat. The bourrées and minuets are elegant and courtly, the gigues in contrast more robust. Harmonies are intelligently signed – so vital in the more rhapsodic preludes. This is particularly the case in the Prelude of the First Suite, which has only two quavers among constant semiquavers. Neither obviously melodic nor rhythmic, they are shaped by Eijlander so as to project the innate drama of conflict as chromaticism yields to a resolution on the tonic harmony. Similarly, the Fourth Suite’s Prelude is delivered with a great sense of fantasy and eloquence by Eijlander."

[read full review]

    Nederlands Dagblad -

"Mooie afgewogen interpretatie van de suites"

Roel Sikkema[read full review]

    Gramophone Magazine

"It is pleasing, therefore, that Joachim Eijlander’s approach is audibly apparent in every bar of his first volume of the Suites: the tempi are measured, if uncontroversial, the performances are meticulous in their tuning."

Caroline Gill[read full review]

    DvhN -

"Eijlander is on his way to become a Top Cellist"

Rudolf Nammensma

Bach Cello Suites vol. 1 (2015)


Joachim Eijlander

Digital Converters: Horus by Merging Technologies
Mastering Engineer: Daan van Aalst
Microphones: Schoeps, DPA
Producer: Daan van Aalst
Recording Engineer: Daan van Aalst
Recording location: Doopsgezinde kerk Haarlem Holland
Recording Software: Merging Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD256
Speakers: B&W804

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NC15003: Bach Cello Suites vol. 1
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Prelude
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Allemande
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Courante
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Sarabande
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Menuet I and II
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Suite No 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 - Gigue
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Prelude
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Allemande
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Courante
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Sarabande
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Bouree I and II
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Suite No 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 - Gigue
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Prelude
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Allemande
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Courante
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Sarabande
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Bouree I and II
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Suite No 4 in E Flat Major, BWV 1010 - Gigue
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