HEKUN WU

THE TAO OF BACH: 6 Cello Suites

THE TAO OF BACH: 6 Cello Suites

Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Bwv 1007-1012

Johann Sebastian Bach

HEKUN WU, cello

2CD Set

[MS1385]

$19.95

LISTEN
REVIEWS
"In Wu’s readings we have the best modern-instrument performances to come my way since I reviewed Jean-Guihen Queyras’s Harmonia Mundi recording in 31:4. To begin with, Wu captures the essence of the dance in every one of the movements. He’s light on the bow and his phrasing traces arcs and pirouettes of the dancer in motion. In a word, his playing is airborne. Second, and closely related to the first, are tempos that move along effortlessly but never too fast, almost gliding in courantes, menuettos, gavottes, boureés, and gigues, and that never drag in sarabandes, always mindful of the fact that true dances are never so fast or so slow that the dancer is thrown off balance. And with moderation in tempo comes regularity of rhythmic pulse and pointing, which Wu manages beautifully. Third is a recording that provides plenty of space for the cello’s tone to resonate fully while still managing to keep a respectful distance so that we’re not treated to a sandpaper symphony. Wu’s performances of the suites, and this recording of them, are so far superior to anything I’ve heard since Queyras that I have no hesitation in according this release a very strong recommendation."
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare [July/August 2011]
"[Hekun Wu's interpretations] are relaxed and musical... His attention to detail in choosing notes is commendable. The lyricism of these performances is attractive."
D. Moore, American Record Guide [July/August 2011]
"He plays [the Suites] smoothly technically... he plays lyrically..."
Turok's Choice, No.232 [May 2011]
"as satisfying a recording of the Six Cello Suites...as I’ve ever heard."
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [March / April 2011]
PROGRAM NOTES
According to the Chinese sage, Lao Tzu (6th century B.C.),

The highest good is like water

Water gives life to ten thousand things and does not strive

It flows in places men reject and likewise is the Tao

Tao Te Ching

This image of flowing water has been a constant guiding principle for more than thirty years in my study of these Six Suites: the music, like flowing water, does not force itself upon the player and the audience, but rather unfolds in a most organic, life-affirming, and natural way. Water, the principal symbol of the Tao, embodies the “way” to the essence of this extraordinary music. I was also struck by the words of Anna Magdalena, Bach’s second wife, quoted in La Petite Chronique d’A.M. Bach, in which she states that the essence of her husband’s music lies in its being “… all fresh, sparkling and gay, like some living water...”

We cellists owe a great debt to Bach, for the Six Suites have become our musical canon, akin to Shakespeare’s Hamlet for actors. In these monumental works, cellists are given the opportunity and the challenge to play polyphonic music that creates a sound world of melody, harmony, and counterpoint on just four strings. From the simple to the sublime, these Suites traverse an enormous expressive landscape on just one instrument.

*     *     *

Hekun Wu enjoys a versatile career as a concert cellist and conductor. He has performed as a soloist with major orchestras in his native China, including the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the China Central Philharmonic in Beijing, and gave the Chinese premieres of the Elgar and Milhaud concertos, as well as Penderecki’s Concerto Grosso with Penderecki himself on the podium. Music festivals and concerts have taken Wu to Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the United States, in such cities as Shanghai, Paris, New York, Boston and Leipzig. Equally at home on the podium, over the last decade Wu has served as music director, university conductor and guest conductor. He has conducted works from Mozart to Mahler, and also music of our time, including Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto and the recent Pacific Northwest premiere of Ned Rorem’s opera, Our Town. Born in Shanghai, Wu received his early training at the Shanghai Conservatory under the tutelage of Xia Jinglu and Xia Jiabao. He later studied at the Paris Conservatoire and completed his graduate studies in the United States where he was also a recipient of cello and conducting fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival-School. Wu studied with renowned artists Maurice Gendron, Paul Tortelier, Zara Nelsova, Tanya Remenikova, Leslie Parnas and David Zinman. Currently a professor at Willamette University, Dr. Wu has led master classes at numerous institutions in Asia and North America, and summer academies in Europe. He also taught at Wellesley College and at the Shanghai Conservatory, when at the age of 22, he was offered a professorship. As a recording artist, Hekun Wu can be heard on the CRC, Albany and Bridge labels.

PROGRAM

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
SIX SUITES for UNACCOMPANIED CELLO


SUITE NO.1 IN G MAJOR, BWV 1007
Prélude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Menuetto I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO.2 IN D MINOR, BWV 1008
Prélude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Menuetto I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO.3 IN C MAJOR, BWV 1009
Prélude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Bourrée I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO.4 IN E-FLAT MAJOR, BWV 1010
Prélude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Bourrée I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO.5 IN C MINOR, BWV 1011
Prélude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Gavotte I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO.6 IN D MAJOR, BWV 1012
Prélude
Allemande
CouranteSarabande
Gavotte I & II
Gigue

 





MSR Classics