Joshua Roman

No one knows exactly when or for whom J.S. Bach wrote his six suites for solo cello, but he made the instrument do things it never had, pushing it to expressive heights that many consider still unequaled after 300 years. Neatly laid out in a format of six movements each, the suites cover a range of difficulty from tuneful pieces every student encounters on the way up to some of the most challenging works in the cello repertory. And Joshua Roman will play them all tonight—in two chunks, at 4 and 7:30 p.m., with a dinner break between. Roman came to Seattle in 2006 when hired as the first-chair cellist for the Seattle Symphony; though he moved on from that gig after two seasons, he stayed in town to curate Town Hall’s “TownMusic” series, headlining intrepid chamber-music recitals that have brought together classic repertory, new works, jazz, even indie rock. Anyone who thinks fire and elegance, precision and passion, are opposed concepts needs to hear Roman; few performers I know on any instrument can so compellingly combine technical gloss with visceral punch. Imagine a soprano who can somehow simultaneously sing like Renée Fleming and Janis Joplin, and you’ll have an idea. The question is just how he’ll harness these qualities for Bach’s intricate, poised stylized dance movements. No doubt he’ll come up with some marvelously imaginative approaches. GAVIN BORCHERT

Sun., Nov. 27, 4 & 7:30 p.m., 2011