“Rostropovich's performances are masterly and all-involving, drawing distinctions between each work in his spoken introductions, although one can choose to hear the music without the commentaries. Unsurpassed and unsurpassable.” (The Penguin Guide)
In the '80s there were those listeners who thought that Heinrich Schiff might redeem cello performance practice from fatal beauty and lethal elegance. Aside from the burly and brawny Rostropovich, more and more cellists were advocating a performance style whose ideals were perfect intonation and graceful phrasing. In some repertoire, say, Fauré, these are perfectly legitimate goals. In other repertoire, Beethoven and Brahms, say, it is a terrible mistake. In Bach's Cello Suites, as the fay and fragile Yo-Yo Ma recordings make clear, it was a terminal mistake. Not so in Schiff's magnificently muscular 1984 recordings of the suites: Schiff's rhythms, his tempos, his tone, his intonation, and especially his interpretations were anything but fay or fragile. In Schiff's performance, Bach's Cello Suites are not the neurasthenic music of a composer supine with dread and despair in the dark midnight of the soul, but the forceful music of a mature composer in full control of himself and his music.
Experience, virtuosity and individuality are all required when tackling J.S. Bach’s popular cello suites; Richard Tunnicliffe brings a lifetime of insight to his debut solo recording. Richard has made a special study of Bach's cello suites and his performances of all six have been acclaimed in Europe and Australia as well as at numerous venues in Great Britain, including Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room in London.
C.P.E. Bach would undoubtedly rejoice, were he alive, upon hearing this album of his cello concertos by Truls Mørk and Les Violons du Roy under the direction of Bernard Labadie. From the opening notes, one cannot help but feel the orchestra is fantastic. The A major Cello Concerto begins with vigor and liveliness, with the ensemble playing perfectly together in tempo with great spirit. Mørk plays just as well, with a clean, accurate, and somewhat light touch.
Cellist Zuill Bailey releases his Bach Suites for Solo Cello on February 2, 2010. All six suites were recorded in one week at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City in December, 2008, following years of preparation by Mr. Bailey. "I was unaware of the depths of the music as a young person, but came to realize that there are so many ways of interpreting Bach that it channels where a cellist is at that precise moment. It has become such a personal journey for me."
This is one of the most important recordings of the 20th century, both for its content (considered by many the greatest cello music of all time) and for the intense devotion, careful preparation, and towering technical skill that went into the project. It was a brilliant idea to make a video as well as an audio recording. Cellists will welcome the chance to study Rostropovich's bowing and fingering techniques, close up and at leisure. And music-lovers will welcome the visuals of the recording location, a French church whose architecture, statues, and flickering candles complement the music.
Mstislav Rostropovich knew, loved and practiced the Bach suites from his teen years, when the legendary Pablo Casals gave him a private performance of one of them. But he did not feel ready to record the complete set until he was 63 years old. Then he found an ideal location for the recording; he carefully chose his recording technicians, and he supervised the sessions besides playing the cello as only he can. Each note is carefully considered and given its unique shape. The music's structures are made clear, its emotional overtones powerfully conveyed. The conventional structure of a baroque suite–an elaborate overture followed by a series of dances–comes vigorously to life. And Rostropovich gives a spoken introduction to each suite (in Russian, with English subtitles) playing illustrative passages on the piano or organ.
The result may appeal mostly to specialized tastes (unaccompanied cello is not everyone's cup of tea), but this video is a landmark.–Joe McLellan