The young violist Maxim Rysanov makes his debut on BIS with three of Bach’s suites transcribed for viola by Simon Rowland-Jones. Recognised as one of the world’s finest and most charismatic viola players, Maxim Rysanov performs worldwide as a concerto soloist and chamber musician. Rysanov is a past recipient of both the Classic FM Gramophone Young Artist of the Year and the BBC New Generation awards and is a prizewinner of the Geneva International Music Competition and Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition among others. Originally from the Ukraine, he studied with Maria Sitkovskaya in Moscow and with John Glickman in London, his adopted home town.
The American lutenist, Hopkinson Smith, began as a teenager he began to study the classical guitar and in his early 20's, he became acquainted with the lute which he started to learn by himself. He majored in musicology at Harvard and graduated with honors in 1972. In 1973, Hopkinson Smith came to Europe to devote himself to the lute in earnest. He worked in Catalonia with Emilio Pujol, a profound pedagogue in the 19th century tradition who instilled in him a sense for higher artistic values, and in Switzerland with Eugen Dombois whose sense of happy organic unity between performer, instrument and historic period has had a lasting effect on him. From the mid 1970's, he was involved in various ensemble projects including the founding of the ensemble Hespèrion XX and a ten-year collaboration with Jordi Savall. This collaboration led to important experiences in chamber music which were a creative complement to his work as a soloist.
It was with three of Bach’s cello suites, transcribed for the viola, that Maxim Rysanov made his début on BIS in 2010. The Sunday Times had one reservation: ‘Rysanov’s recording of Bach’s suites is near perfection; the only flaw being that he did not perform all six.’ With the present disc that flaw is now being rectified, and the set is complete.
This is a glorious disc. Simply glorious. Anderszewski and Bach have long been congenial bedfellows and the Pole’s playing here is compelling on many different levels. To start with, there’s the sense of sharing the sheer physical thrill of Bach’s keyboard-writing. This is particularly evident in faster movements such as the fierce and brilliant fugal Gigue that concludes the Third Suite, or, in the E minor Fifth Suite, the extended fugal Prelude and the outer sections of its Passepied I. Common to all is a sense of being fleet but never breathless, with time enough for textures to tell.
Bach’s keyboard works known as the English Suites offer a series of dance movements which, despite their name, owe more to earlier French and German models. This is the first of two recordings of the complete English Suites arranged for two guitars by the distinguished Montenegrin Guitar Duo. Transcriptions of Bach for solo guitar have been popular since the nineteenth century and the emergence of the guitar duo extends still further the potential for exciting and revelatory performances.
Hopkinson Smith playing one of the masters of french baroque: Francois Dufaut.