Anner Bylsma, Auguste-Joseph Franchomme, Barthold Kuijken, Domenico Gabrielli, Frans Brüggen, Gustav Leohardt, Henri Pousseur, Johann Sebastian Bach, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Olivier Bernager, Sigiswald Kuijken
Cellist Anner Bylsma was the featured artist of a 1989 installment
of the “Private Music Lessons” series, filmed for French television.
This intimate portrait included footage of Bylsma (1934 – )
teaching his son, as well as commuting via bicycle in his native
Holland and strolling through the Dutch countryside.
Bylsma has been one of the pioneers in the revival of Baroque
music performances on period instruments, and was the first to
use a Baroque cello for his 1979 recording of all six “Cello Suites”
by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Other champions of
this movement include Maestros Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929 – ),
Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2012) and Frans Brüggen (1934-2014),
as well as the Kuijken brothers, Sigiswald (1944 – ) and
Barthold (1949 – ).
However, Bylsma does not limit his repertoire to the
Baroque genre. Examples on this DVD included
his work with one pupil who was studying Henri Pousseur’s
“La ligne des Toits” and his coaching of another student, who
was preparing one of Auguste-Joseph Franchomme’s “Etudes.”
Nevertheless, most of the footage was devoted to Baroque cello
technique and repertoire, to the benefit of a student studying a
“Canzone” by cellist virtuoso, Domenico Gabrielli. It should be
noted that this composer bore no relation to Venetian
organists/composers Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli.
The editor of this film is Olivier Bernager (1949 – ), whose
multifaceted career includes pedagogy. Although he’s not a
professional cellist, Bernager was supported by Bylsma’s
coaching during his study of the Bach “Cello Suite BWV 1011.”
The DVD concludes with a Bylsma performance of the
“Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major,” further demonstrating
his expertise regarding these Bach works.
As noted above, Bylsma’s repertoire is extremely well-rounded,
and he served as Principal Cellist for the Amsterdam
Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1962 through 1968, while also
Professor at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague and at the
Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam. Today, he continues to
teach masterclasses all over the world. Clearly, he’s a
sympathetic teacher with a keen ear, who also comes across
as an extremely nice guy!
I found this DVD to be particularly valuable for the footage
devoted to the Baroque cello which is an instrument played
without an end pin, utilizing a different bow than a modern
cello, as well as gut strings. I’m eagerly looking forward to
watching other installments of this excellent series.