The complete Bach Cello Suites for Guitar in a unique arrangement with an outstanding guitarist is a very special project, which I’m very proud to introduce you to.
There are many points that make this project so special and have made me enjoy the whole process and getting involved in it intensely. As a guitarist myself, I’m used to hearing the cello suites arranged for guitar (with varying degrees of success). Adapting Bach to a new medium is always a challenge, and the Cello Suites are somehow a special case. From the apparent simplicity and lightness of the first suite to the deep spirituality of the sixth (I always have the feeling of listening to a Bach Cantata with this suite), the Bach Cello Suites have an ascetic and enigmatic aura that somehow needs to be deciphered. (It comes to my mind the way Berlioz saw Beethoven’s Hammerklavier: a Sphinx that needs to be riddled).
So, when Petrit approached me with the idea of recording them (something he had been preparing for a long, long, time) and told me that the arrangement was a very special one, I was curious to see what was special about it. And I have to say that it is indeed a unique arrangement. Valter Despalj, an acclaimed cellist with a deep love for the guitar, has approached the instrument and the Suites with the needed freedom yet with respect and true knowledge of Bach language and has created what sounds like works Bach could have originally conceived for the guitar. (I strongly suggest reading the accompanying liner notes, which include a very revealing interview with Valter Despalj about his arrangements of the suites for guitar).
Working with Petrit Çeku was also a unique experience. Very rarely is a performer able to communicate in such a natural and transparent way. Recording him was magical and inspiring. You could feel the connection and involvement with a project which had accompanied him for a long time, and the sessions went smoothly.
The location was simply perfect for this project: the 13th Century Church of San Francisco, in Ávila (Spain) has amazing airy but warm acoustics with its mixture of stone and wood. On some days we were completely surrounded by thick snow outside (yes, it’s Spain but this city can get very, very cold). You can hear some distant birds singing when the sun came back, by the way. It can’t be heard, but filmmaker Kaltrina Krasniqi was also less than two meters away from Petrit during the whole recording sessions for the first three Suites, shooting a documentary about Petrit’s Bach project.
Bach´s music transcends the instrumental medium, time and historical conventions in a way few artworks can achieve. I have the feeling that Despalj’s arrangement and Petrit’s performance allow these masterpieces to fully shine in an unexpected and wonderful way. I’m glad to have been there to capture that in DSD. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it and feel all the energy and care that we put into it!