Eric Smith
Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Complete Bach Cello Suites Part 2 with Eric Smith | Dallas Bach Society | Private Residence

Sweet Cello, Again

Cellist Eric Smith returns to play three more of Bach's cello suites for the Dallas Bach Society.

published Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Photo: Quartet Galant
Eric Smith

Dallas — J.S. Bach wrote six dance suites for solo cello that are staples of the cellist’s repertoire, and have been transcribed for a wide variety of other instruments, from viola and double bass to marimba. However, it is relatively rare to hear the suites played on Baroque cello and singular to hear the sixth suite played on the smaller, five-stringed violoncello piccolo. But Saturday night at the ornately lovely Preston Hollow home of Tom and Becky Fennell, a few lucky Dallas Bach Society patrons got to hear just that.

In November, Dallas Bach Society principal cello Eric Smith performed the odd-numbered suites in a pair of house concerts much like Saturday’s, in a performance reviewed here. On Saturday, he performed suites 2, 4, and 6.

These house party concerts are a true luxury, with a catered menu, passed hors d’oeuvres, valet parking, and wine and champagne. They take place in some of the most elegant homes in the Metroplex, and are a fine way to meet like-minded music lovers. But on Saturday, the real draw wasn’t the dessert tray or the chit-chat: it was Eric Smith’s playing.

Smith is a Baroque cellist of singular accomplishments, who just keeps getting better over the years. While there may be cellists who are technically more adept, there are few if any who are as knowledgeable about Baroque performance practice on cello, and who employ that knowledge so effectively in their own playing. Hearing Smith perform is an education, in the best possible way. Smith makes the beauty of Bach’s string writing evident, yes, but also provides insight into phrasing or interpretive choices or tempi.

The second and fourth suites were performed on Smith’s 18th-century German Baroque cello, but after intermission, Smith switched to a piccolo cello. This smaller, five-string cello—it adds one higher string, an E string—is used only in a very limited number of works, and Bach’s sixth cello suite is premier among them.

While this final cello suite has been transcribed for modern cello, it is an awkward and tricky piece on an instrument lacking the higher string. On the piccolo cello, the piece was a revelation. It is still technically demanding, to be sure, but lacks the contortionist fingerings and top-of-the-range timbre that’s characteristic of most recordings and performances. The piece sounded, to this ear, more characteristically Bachian than in modern or even Baroque cello versions.

Eric Smith and Dallas Bach Society repeated this program in a free performance on Sunday at St. Matthew Cathedral. This was a wonderful alternative for those unable to attend the house concert version. It would be a great gift to the music lovers of Dallas if these free concerts became a regular offering. Thanks For Reading

Click or Swipe to close
Sweet Cello, Again
Cellist Eric Smith returns to play three more of Bach's cello suites for the Dallas Bach Society.
by J. Robin Coffelt

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :