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“On the heels of the recent recording – “breathtaking in its sheer precision and vitality” (Pianist magazine) – of her own transcription for four-hands piano of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, pianist Eleonor Bindman has now completed a new project: a solo piano transcription and recording of all six of Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello. These pieces have been transcribed many times for instruments from trombone to charango, starting with the lute version of Suite No. 5 made by Bach himself. But previous piano versions, particularly in the 19th century, tended toward “improvements” ranging from added harmonies to newly composed accompaniments. Bindman’s goal was to adhere as closely to the original works as possible, making a simple and sincere attempt to bring a new sonority to some of Bach’s most beautiful conceptions. The new recording will be released on the Grand Piano label, a subsidiary of Naxos, on October 9.
Each of the cello suites begins with a prelude, followed by a series of movements named after dances but not always especially danceable; Bach treated these forms with great flexibility. Thus Bindman’s immersion in the cello suites was partially a process of discovering the organic personality of each movement, distinct from the other examples of that dance in the other suites. In some cases the mechanics of the piano affected her interpretation: for example, she tended toward slightly faster tempos than a cellist would be inclined to take. Tonalities also proved to be an important consideration: the E-flat key of Suite No. 4, for example, is notably idiomatic for the piano – doubly so on Bindman’s richly resonant Bösendorfer – despite being a difficult key for the work’s original instrument.…