GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER 2015 - BAROQUE INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR. This recording is the first time that the five-stringed Amati has been used to record the 6th suite and it is the only original five-string cello in existence in the UK and unique in being the only one by this maker. The Cello Suites are performed on two gut-string cellos Suite Nos. 1-5 on a Francesco Ruggieri from 1660 and Suite No. 6 the five-stringed Cremona cello by A. & H. Amati from c.1600, both tuned to Baroque pitch. Bachs cello suites are renowned as the pinnacle of the instruments repertoire and are performed here in period performances by the internationally acclaimed cellist, David Watkin. David Watkin has been performing Bachs Cello Suites in concert for 35 years, and Bachs unaccompanied cello repertoire has taken him all over Europe, from the Palace of Frederick the Great at Potsdam to the Prague Spring Festival, and, as part of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, included performances sitting by the font in which Bach was baptised.
Long ago, before he achieved relative stardom with his Nordic, somewhat new-agey recreations of medieval music, Jan Garbarek produced a handful of spectacular, robust albums for ECM where the influence of free jazz, particularly Albert Ayler, was paramount. Afric Pepperbird was his first recording for the then fledgling label and it features his quartet at the height of their powers, embellishing his muscular and imaginative compositions with outstanding, individualistic playing. From the eerie keening of the opening "Scarabee," framed by Jon Christensen's pinpoint delicate drums, to the hard-driving "Beast of Kommodo" with the leaders wailing bass sax to Rypdal's manic explorations on Blow Away Zone, this is one stellar effort.
“Rostropovich's performances are masterly and all-involving, drawing distinctions between each work in his spoken introductions, although one can choose to hear the music without the commentaries. Unsurpassed and unsurpassable.” (The Penguin Guide)
So, it's essentially a harder-rocking version of the last album. But you know what? It doesn't matter because the band is at a peak. Cuomo continues to write consistently strong songs, occasionally penning a flat-out stunner ("Dope Nose" is one of Weezer's all-time greatest songs), the band is tighter than ever, and the record crackles with energy – nothing new, per se, but still vibrant, catchy, and satisfying.