Pieter Wispelwey: J.S. Bach, Suites for cello Nos. 1-3, St. Mark’s Church, San Francisco, Nov. 3, 2013.
The venue was white and peaceful, a little unmysterious in the way of modern churches, with stained glass catching a blaze of unseasonal sun. The pews sat hundreds, half of us or more apparently some sort of cellist. Of the three suites he played, the only one I’ve slopped through is the first, and I was surprised by his Baroque take on it: light and fast, with the sixteenth-note runs attenuated to gestures of the wrist. I admired without being sure I was in love; but in the second suite he began to linger and emphasize, and come the minuets and gigue, he and we and the cello dropped into perfect free fall together.
We clapped our hearts out.
“Have you played that piece?” asked the older woman next to me.
“No, no! I’ve only been playing a year.”
“Oh, really? You were moving like perhaps you were used to playing it.”
We admired the performance back and forth, and she asked my teacher’s name. Hearing it, she nodded in approval.
“Good. She’s good.”