Album review: Hopkinson Smith, Bach: Suites Nos. 1, 2, 3 (Naïve)


Bach's cello suites are particularly well suited to these transcriptions for the German theorbo by master lutenist Hopkinson Smith: the instrument's longer strings, combined with the full, resonant quality of its dozen double-string courses, allow for a much more satisfying representation of the lower registers than a standard lute could afford, and more ably realise the chordal intimations of the cello parts.

In some ways, they improve on the originals, the nimble interplay of plucked lines imparting a rolling momentum to the performance not possible on the cello. This is especially evident in the Suite No 1, which includes the most natural and satisfying transcriptions in the Prelude and Gigue sections, which bookend the piece with its most potent melodies.

Download: Suite No 1 in G major; Suite No 2 in D minor