Playing the Bach cello suites is no mean feat – doing so at short notice on a stand-in basis is truly remarkable.
With programmed artiste Anastasia Kobekina unable to play due to visa issues, Leo Popplewell has stepped up for two nights of concerts at Norwich’s Octagon Chapel, performing these impressive pieces.
Although he is playing all six suites over the concerts with three per evening, as Popplewell explains they have been taken ‘out of order’ – partly to provide a key progression between the pieces, and partly because they get more difficult and re-ordering helps balance out the work better.
For the first night we get the first, fifth, and fourth suites, with the third, second, and sixth to come in the second part.
Popplewell’s performance is calm and measured, and his playing mostly relaxed. These are fast pieces in places, but his style is not clipped or abrupt.
It was not a faultless performance, with a few scratchier than ideal notes particularly in the fourth suite, but given the late programme change this is still pretty magnificent.
Together with the impressive surroundings of the Unitarian chapel, this was a relaxing and enchanting summer’s evening.
- Part two is sold out; check with the box office for returns. The Norfolk & Norwich Festival runs from 13-29 May 2022. For more information visit www.nnfestival.org.uk.