When I first approached Bach’s ‘cello suites, I listened carefully to Janos Starker and Pablo Casals. I tried to use their ideas as best I could on the guitar.
But the results weren’t good. I couldn’t reproduce the great-hearted sound I was hearing from the ‘cello. I gave up on the project after a few weeks.
Then, several months later, I heard Walter Gerwig delicately play some of the ‘cello music on lute. “That’s beautiful!” I thought. “How can that music work so well on the lute — an instrument that is even less gutsy than the guitar?”
The answer came: He’s not trying to make his lute sound like a ‘cello, of course!
It was a milestone lesson for me: Don’t try to make the guitar sound like a ‘cello, or a piano, or a lute, or anything else. Go to what is most beautiful about the guitar and bring that forward. Play as if Bach had written the music to showcase how beautiful a guitar can sound.