BBC Music Magazine

Fri. 22.05.2020 16:40

Suspend the memory of your go-to recording of Bach’s Cello Suites and entertain the idea of a performance given in Cöthen by a visiting Italian. In this guise Mauro Valli’s interpretation cascades with the splendour of the Italian style; no repeat is left unadorned and small gestures are as vivid as the emotions frozen in Bernini’s sculptures. But also imagine that Bach’s contemporary performer had visited Paris and you arrive at Valli’s reading, because the French movements shimmer with the gleam of Versailles.

They may seem unlikely bed fellows, but Bach’s Suites follow the key structure of five out of six of Domenico Gabrielli’s dramatic Ricercari for solo cello (likely the first un accompanied works for the instrument). Programmed together, Valli promotes a dialogue of technique and invention – from increased use of both scordatura (de rigueur in Bologna) and the five-string violon cello piccolo, to a reconciled pitch [A=465] that results in Bach’s suites raised to a luminous Italian disposition.

It’s a closely-miked recording, but the generous acoustic at Zürich’s Kirche Neumünster encourages Valli’s chosen textures and sense of poise: for instance his reading of Bach’s Second Prelude – hugely rhetorical and increasingly ornamented until the final bars eschew the usual treatment of broken arpeggios in favour of fizzing Italianate invention. If some times the dances muse rather than take off, the sudden dissonance of an un expectedly unadorned sarabande stops you in your tracks. For all the detail, Valli wears his scholarship lightly and his conviction is catching – reminding us that notions of authenticity are far from tied to a single time and place.

Hannah French

Claude Starck, 1 November 2019

Sun. 01.12.2019 13:01

You are such an expressive performer and a master of ornaments.

Gabrielli, Bach. It is as if a musician from the Settecento came to us to demonstrate the style of that time in Bologna. Freedom of imagination, expression, agogics, but above all the playfulness in the sense of the ornaments. Here Bach is not the starting point of the great cello works, here he is integrated in his time. Especially in the juxtaposition of Gabrielli’s ricercare one experiences wonderfully the sense of time. The ornaments give the Ricercare a strong expressive value. They are like a fresh wind blowing through the CD. The whole thing is a great musical experience, which sets itself clearly apart from previous interpretations. Your Bach style is compelling, again and again I feel the need to hear a few phrases. I am completely taken with the sense of realism that you convey.

Bach in Bologna

Sun. 06.01.2019 21:10

Mauro Valli – Violoncello & 5 string violoncello piccolo
Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] – 6 Suites Violoncello
Domenico Gabrielli [1659-1690] – 7 Ricercari

CD 1

Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 1° (G minor), Ricercar 6° (G major)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite I (G major) BWV 1007
Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 3° (D major)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite VI a cinq cordes (D major) BWV 1012
Domenico Gabrielli – Canon a due violoncelli (D major)

CD 2

Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 3° (D minor)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite II (D minor) BWV 1008
Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 4° (E-flat major)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite IV (E-flat major) BWV 1010

CD 3

Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 5° (C major)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite III (C major) BWV 1009
Domenico Gabrielli – Ricercar 2° (A minor)
Johann Sebastian Bach – Suite V Discordable (C minor) BWV 1011