This is a review by the Editor of Kadaverine Zine (http://kadaverinezine.tumblr.com), published on June 8th, 2016:
Electric guitar virtuoso Sam Russell has painstakingly transcribed Bach’s first cello suite for the electric guitar and released an accompanying CD to showcase the beauty and compatibility of Bach’s work on the electric guitar. The suite is comprised of a prelude followed by a series of dances in various 16th century styles.
The iconic prelude of Bach’s first cello suite swirls and echoes delicately between cleanly picked notes. The climax of the prelude is tastefully executed, edging gently towards a gentle finish.
Allemande develops the basic melody of the prelude. Allemande’s were elaborate 16th century court dances, and this can be felt in the intricacy of Bach’s melodic development. The longest piece in the suite, this showcases the complexity of Russell’s skill, as well as Bach’s ability to playfully draw out and modify melodies into completely new strains.
Courante begins with an outburst of almost unrestrained notes, yet Russell holds it all masterfully together. You don’t need to be an expert on 16th century music to know that the courante is a dance, and you can certainly feel it through the clarity of the transcription and execution.
The sarabande is a more drifting laid back piece compared to Courante, embellished with trills and teasing half cadences, it brings your ear back to the more stately airs of the suite. Minuet I & II cheekily starts with the first three notes of the prelude, and this becomes a motif throughout the piece. The drop into minor key at 1:28 produces a mood of wistful mystery that is suited to the way that Russell uses the instrument.
Gigue’s are often placed at the end of a suite, and the one that ends this one brings together all of the previous pieces and rolls them up into an apotheosis that concludes the suite in a single bold stroke.
The slight echo and sustain in production work well in sustaining the mood and the dynamics are masterfully restrained. Crescendos and decrescendos are all on mark, accentuating the detail of the piece instead of overpowering it.
This is a fantastic adaptation of one of Bach’s greatest works. It’s clear that these pieces are all a pleasure to play, big curly wigs off to Sam Russell for transcribing these pieces. It must have been real Bach breaking work.
You can get your hands on his CD and book with all the notation here.