Review: Timothée Marcel plays Bach

Timothée Marcel began his career as a cellist at a very young age, taking his first lessons from his father. A native of France, Marcel graduated from the Paris Conservatory in 2006 with highest honours in Cello Performance and Chamber Music Studies, and has won multiple national and international cello competitions throughout his career.

The widely-acclaimed Marcel performed three Bach Suites at L’Eglise Saint-Ephrem on Jan. 7, at 9 PM. The church, although small, produced a nice atmosphere for the recital, as the warm glow of the candles and gentle spotlights lit up the performance without being invasive.

His interpretation of Suite Nr 1 in G Major (BWV 1007) was a pleasant balance between Baroque and Romantic. The famous Prelude of the suite was not the expected cliche, but some of his emphases were a bit over the top, with bass notes overwhelming the rest of the harmonies. Still, Marcel prevented the oft-played Suite from becoming stale.

Marcel spent some time after the First Suite to explain the basic structure of the suites, and gave the the audience a brief background on the works before resuming his performance.

For Suite Nr 4 in E♭ Major (BWV 1010), Marcel did not hesitate to dig in. His Prelude was quicker and lighter than the mainstream sound, again breathing new life into the work. There were a few inconsistencies with his choice of repeats taken throughout, but it did not disrupt the flow of each movement.

If there was any doubt that Marcel has played these suites on period instruments, they are immediately dispelled with his performance of Suite Nr 3 in C Major (BWV 1009). Most apparent with the Courante, Marcel made his modern bow dance sprightly on his cello like a Baroque bow – the typical approach would have been with heavier broader strokes. His ability to bring the Baroque sound to a broad classical audience through a modern cello is truly one to be admired.

Marcel will continue to perform the six Bach suites at Eglise St-Ephrem until April 2015.



Eglise Saint-Ephrem
17, rue des Carmes
75005 Paris


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