SHRAFRAN - BACH SUITES


This is one of many recordings of Bach's complete suites for unaccompanied cello that Shrafran made for the Melodyia label with the same instrument. Unusually for a major cellist, Shafran played the same instrument throughout his life. He formed an unbreakable bond with the Antonio Amati cello that he won at the age of 14, and always played on it. The cello is described as dating from 1630. The exact dates of Antonio Amati (son of Andrea Amati, and the elder of the two Brothers Amati) are not known for certain, being variously reported between 1540 and 1607 and 1555 to 1640. Sources such as Cozio report that the entire span of Antonio Amati's working life was 1588–1628 It is by all accounts a magnificent instrument, thought somewhat smaller than full size. 

It has been questioned whether "any Amati, no matter how fine, is sufficiently powerful for a solo cellist at the summit of his career. Baroque instruments of that period would not normally have the power of a later master." However, Shafran's recordings give no hint that the Amati has any lack of power. On the other hand, any Amati surviving into the present time has been rebuilt in the neck to allow for a higher bridge, and these alterations would give the instrument more carrying power and a brighter, more piercing sound than it had in the original baroque setup. The use of metal strings at high tension would also add to the brighter sound. Shafran, who was known for his sometimes remarkably individual fingerings, denied that they would only work for his hand and on a cello of this size: "Any cellist with a normal stretch can use my fingerings on a standard sized cello, though they would, of course, be more difficult for a cellist with a small finger stretch". Daniil Shafran died in Moscow on 7 February 1997, aged 74. In September 1997, his widow, Svetlana Shafran, donated the Amati cello to the Glinka Museum. - Saulo Zucchello