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Bach’s Cello Suites have rarely sounded as attractive or as melodic as they do here in Viola de Hoog’s new recording for Vivat



 These are readings of direct and uncomplicated elegance, in which beauty of tone and the evenness of melodic contour always take precedence. They are a little lacking in drama and emotional weight, but make up for that in the sheer vitality of the performances. The music here is always either singing or dancing, inflected yes, with subtle rubato and careful dynamic shading, but never to the point of seriously disrupting the dance meters beneath each of the movements.   

We are in historically informed territory here, so the strings are gut (although the lower two are over-wound), the pitch is 415, and there isn’t a hint of vibrato. There haven’t been many such recordings of Bach’s Cello Suites; the first was made by de Hoog’s teacher Anner Bijlsma in 1979. De Hoog’s readings are more relaxed the Bijlsma’s, more comfortable in their dance rhythms, and even more distant from the more dramatic tendencies of earlier generations of cellists. The Prelude to the First Suite, for example, usually builds in volume and intensity in the phrases leading up to the final cadence. Not so here; the movement retains its shape, largely thanks to the cleanly articulated harmonica progression, but the playing retains its intimacy throughout. Just a hint of rubato acknowledges the arrival at the tonic chord, just leaning on that first note of the bar for the fraction of a second needed to make the point.

Tempos are never extreme, and if anything often feel slower than the norm. That allows de Hoog to bring out the singing quality in many of the more lyrical movements, such as the Sarabande of the Third Suite. And when the music needs propulsion and energy, de Hoog provides it more through the bounce of her articulation and her forward-looking phrasing than through extremes of speed, as in the final Gigue of the First Suite or the Courante of the Second.

The first five suites are performed on a very attractive-sounding Guadagnini cello of c. 1750. For the Sixth, de Hoog moves to a recently restored Bohemian five-string cello c. 1780. It doesn’t have quite the same richness or evenness of tone, but offers the extra versatility (and notes) the final suite demands. The recording was made in a church setting, at De Oude Dorpskerk, Bunnik, The Netherlands. The resonance the space provides is ideal, adding warmth and context but without detracting from the detail. Credit here too to sound engineer Adriaan Verstijnen for the impressive audio quality throughout. As ever, the Vivat label provides impressive documentation of the music, performer, instrument and recording sessions. All-round, a very attractive release.

Bach, J.S.: Suites voor cellosolo nr. 1-6 BWV 1007/1012. Viola de Hoog. Vivat 107

(2 cd’s, 2u. 14’25”). 2014   


In iedere opname van deze Bachsuites die van waarde is, wordt het evenwicht tussen lichaam en geest, tussen dans en gebed, musicologische verantwoordelijkheid en persoonlijke intuïtie gevierd. Eén van de opvallende kenmerken van deze uitgave is hoezeer Viola de Hoog een duidelijk stijlbesef toont. Ze brengt steeds precies de stemming van elk deel in beeld, beginnend met de vrij vlot gespeelde préludes, maakt met een levendig staccato een duidelijk punt van de courantes, verleent de sarabandesexpressief gewicht zonder het ritmisch profiel te verwaarlozen en danst ze door de menuetten en gigues.

Haar frasering is soepel, fexibel en muzikaal geschakeerd, haar gebruik van vibrato zeer beperkt. 

Sinds haar studie in Amsterdam bij Anner Bijlsma kent en speelt Viola de Hoog deze werken die ze vanzelfsprekend van haver tot gort beheerste voordat ze deze opname maakte. Ze behoort uitgesproken tot de historisch geïnformeerde school interpreten, speelt op twee barokcello’s, een Guadagnini uit 1750 voor het eerste vijftal suites en een Boheems vijfsnarig instrument uit ca. 1780 voor nr. 6.

Het is interessant haar vertolkingen te vergelijken met die van haar leermeester, Bijlsma (RCA RD 70950 uit 1979 en Sony S2K 48047 uit 1992). In het zwaar bezette veld van deze werken – zie de Vergelijkende Discografie – neemt nu ook Viola de Hoog een prominente plaats is. Opname ontstond in de oude dorpskerk in Bunnik die voor een passende akoestische ambiance zorgt.


Jan de Kruijff, Musicalifeiten

De grootste kennisdatabank voor klassieke muziek

BBC Music Magazine

The Strad december 2014

'...fertile musical imagination and detailed, elegant approach make her readings strikingly individual...'

International Record Review


...Above all de Hoog knows that this music needs to breathe naturally, to exist in its own space.

Her tempos are invariably well chosen to maintain clarity of line, phrase and thought in both faster movements, such as the Gigue of the Third Suite, with its

characterful drone effects, and in slower ones, like the ruminative Prelude of the Second Suite...

"Recording, notes and presentation are of Vivat’s customary high standard. In a word: bewitching."


Michael Quinn, ClassicalEar, 19 November 2014

Bach: The Six Cello Suites

Viola de Hoog (cello)


Vivat VIVAT 107 (2 CDs) *****


There is much to like in these ripe, relishable period-instrument performances of music too often tainted by lachrymose dourness. Instead, Hoog foregrounds melody with a free-flowing melancholically tinged lyricism that lends proceedings an agreeably liquescent feeling. Hoog’s is a lyrically concentrated rather than emotionally intense approach that pays dividends in refusing extremes of expression. The overall effect is one marked by lighter textures, less histrionic tempi, colours of more variegated and mellow hues, and dynamic extremes of noticeably more accommodating equilibrium. You don’t often hear this music played on vibrato-free gut strings at period pitch, but for near-as-makes-no-difference comparisons, try Jaap ter Linden on Harmonia Mundi or Anner Bylsma’s touchstone 1979 recording on Sony. Hoog uses two diversely contrasted instruments – a c1750 Guadagnini cello for the first five Suites and a five-string Bohemian cello from c1780 for the Sixth – to altogether expressive ends. Recording, notes and presentation are of Vivat’s customary high standard. In a word: bewitching.

–Michael Quinn (ClassicalEar)


(December 2014 issue)


“A formidable player … fine sound …elegance and finesse … entirely convincing”

“Viola de Hoog … has all the requirements of technique and stylistic sensitivity to be a formidable player … The issue is noteworthy for the fine sound and the elegance and finesse of the playing …

De Hoog, even at her most individual, is entirely convincing … spacious and meditative … suave and natural … a joyful, bouncy sense of rhythm … ”

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