Reenvisioning Bach

July 17, 2013
Erich Burnett

One of the top cellists of his generation, Darrett Adkins has become synonymous with revolutionary contemporary classical music, and he has been hailed by critics as “stunning,” “heroic,” and “fiery.”

In the second installment of his six-part Hypersuite series, inspired by the solo cello suites of Johann Sebastian Bach, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music associate professor revels in bridging the traditional and the avant garde.

“The Hypersuite projects are experimental in nature and require the kind of vision that an institution of higher thinking and learning is comfortable with,” says Adkins. Though unmistakably contemporary in feel, the newest recording in the series, Hypersuite 2, is inspired by music created nearly 300 years ago.

In 1721, Bach created six suites for solo cello. They represented the last significant solo pieces for cello written by any composer for a span of some 200 years. Then, in the latter half of the 20th century, a great number of solo works for cello were created—each one of them, in their own ways, an inescapable nod to the artistry of Bach.

Hypersuite 2 features Bach’s Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008, interspersed with modern creations by five visionary artists: Elliott Carter, Osvaldo Golijov, Arne Nordheim, Adriana Verdié, and Roger Sessions.

“Bach has the first and last word,” as Adkins puts it, “but the journey through the suite has many tales to tell, each unique and powerful, and each personally meaningful.” Adkins discusses the series and plays music from the new album in a video by Karen Odyniec, Darrett Adkins and the Making of Hypersuite, on Vimeo.

Hypersuite 2 is available on CD or digital format through Oberlin Music, the commercial record label of Oberlin College and Conservatory. Oberlin Music can also be reached by phone at 440-775-8272, and its releases are available for digital download through iTunes.

Founded in 2007, Oberlin Music is the commercial record label of Oberlin College and Conservatory, dedicated to showcasing the work of Oberlin’s outstanding faculty and students. Also released this year on the label are A place toward other places, a collection of works recorded between 2010-12 on the campus of Oberlin, featuring Associate Professor of Clarinet Richard Hawkins and Oberlin’s Contemporary Music Ensemble under the direction of conductor Timothy Weiss.

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