Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
paul secor

J.S. Bach: Suites 1-6 for Unaccompanied Cello

99 posts in this topic

I don't know if this has been covered here before. If so, please direct me.

A few weeks ago, I heard a performance of Suite Number One on my car radio.

It was a taped performance, and is not commercially available.

If anyone here can recommend a favorite recording of these pieces, I'll appreciate it greatly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought the Janos Starker recordings on Mercury Living Presence years ago and have never felt the need for another version. . . .35470.jpg

Edited by jazzbo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CMER-470644SA.jpg

Excellent sound (especially on SACD), beautiful performance. From what I've read, this is the definitive recording of the cello suites.

Edited by vibes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always go back to the Pablo Casals recordings of the Suites (which I think have just recently been re-remastered). They're classic if not definitive.

Thomas Demenga — who seems a relatively new master — has also recorded the Suites for ECM, but they've been spread across a fair amount of different discs. Still, great production values, and Demenga's sound is nice — though he does tend to take some tempi more "up" than Casals.

I've never been able to get with either of Yo Yo Ma's recordings of the Suites. (He recorded them, in entirety, for Sony twice, I believe.) Technically immaculate, but something oh-so Wyntonesque about those sides ... :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m also partial towards the Pablo Casals interpretations. But, it's nice to have a few different recordings of these Suites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But, it's nice to have a few different recordings of these Suites.

Agreed. In some ways, though I can't exactly explain why, it's almost essential. I guess hearing different interpretations helps to solidify one's own preference ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(alejo @ Feb 13 2005, 06:55 PM)

But, it's nice to have a few different recordings of these Suites. 

Agreed. In some ways, though I can't exactly explain why, it's almost essential. I guess hearing different interpretations helps to solidify one's own preference ... 

Yes, I also always return to the Casals. Very comforting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the Starker as well. But the Casals is the best -- look for the 2 cd Naxos remastering job, which surpasses all, even the prior EMI remasterings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been meaning to get the Casals. Nice to see the good reviews here.

Not the complete set, but Edgar Meyer did Suites 1, 2, & 5 on double bass for Sony. I like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of Bach solo cello and violin music also can be found on guitar.

1. Bach himself was reworking the same pieces for different instruments. He wrote some lute suites after he met a good lutist (Bach's motivation to write for a specific instrument or orchestra was directed by the ones that surrounded him).

2. Guitar players (like Andres Segovia) transformed some of the violin solo sonatas and partitas for classical guitar.

You can find this music played by Segovia, Julian Bream, John Williams and plenty more.

On cello I heard many interpretations but the ones I remember the most are by Casals and Misha Maisky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Starker is the classic recommendation in the US, in Europe the Pierre Fournier DG recording from 1960 is usually mentionned

B000001GRZ.03.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He wrote some lute suites after he met a good lutist (Bach's motivation to write for a specific instrument or orchestra was directed by the ones that surrounded him).

We now know that most of Bach music attributed to the lute in the Neue Bach Ausgabe was intended for the lute-harpsichord - Bach owned two of these at the time of his death, custon built to his specifications. It is the only instrument that allows playing these pieces as written without transposing the entire piece or single notes. Bach knew the range of the instruments he wrote for very well, whenever he used a lute in his church music he wrote a part specifically for it and these always fit perfectly.

The only lute piece clearly written for the lute is the G minor suite BWV 995 - a transcription of the cello suite in C minor MBW 1011 Bach made at the occasion of a visit of the famous Dresden lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss to Leipzig - he was accompanied by Bach's eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann and is reported to have played the piece prima vista!

The lute pieces are the group of works where the most misconceptions exist. View British lute player/professor Nigel North's liner notes to Kim Heindel recording on the lute-harpsichord "Aufs Lautenwerck" on Dorian for details - a highly recommended recording, BTW! (Seems to be OOP, saw a used copy at amazon.com for a crazy price!)

B000001Q73.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg

As far as the cello suites are concerned, I seriously recommend checking out the two excellent recordings by Anner Bylsma (he played them on gut strings and light bow all his life) on SONY Classical Vivarte, and Peter Wispelwey's newer on Channel Classics. They give the music back its dancing lightness which tends to get lost under the seriousness of a performance on a modern instrument.

B0000027TV.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

B00000C2B4.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.gif

Edited by mikeweil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Incidentally, does anyone know of any good classical forums?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two for Anner - noted.

What about the solo violin suites?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whoo boy, this could get expensive. So far, recordings I haven't heard:

• Starker

• Bylsma

• Wispelwey

• Fournier

I need to hear the Suites on a period instrument.

Argh! :excited:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, on a semi-related note, for Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge, I'll give a big :tup for the Keller Quartett's (fairly) recent recording on ECM New Series. When you hear the Keller play it, and then listen, say, to the Emerson Quartet, it's almost as if you're hearing different compositions, or an altogether different period of music. I like the Emerson Quartet, but (to my not-so-sophisticated classical ears) they seem to "Mozart-ize" the fugues.

Another rec on ECM New Series (Bach-related): Till Fellner's recording of The Well-Tempered Clavier is pretty good. Maybe too much of a polished edge at times, but still luscious.

I don't really care for "jazz" on ECM, but I think the way Manfred Eicher records classical music is beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He wrote some lute suites after he met a good lutist (Bach's motivation to write for a specific instrument or orchestra was directed by the ones that surrounded him).

We now know that most of Bach music attributed to the lute in the Neue Bach Ausgabe was intended for the lute-harpsichord - Bach owned two of these at the time of his death, custon built to his specifications. It is the only instrument that allows playing these pieces as written without transposing the entire piece or single notes. Bach knew the range of the instruments he wrote for very well, whenever he used a lute in his church music he wrote a part specifically for it and these always fit perfectly.

The only lute piece clearly written for the lute is the G minor suite BWV 995 - a transcription of the cello suite in C minor MBW 1011 Bach made at the occasion of a visit of the famous Dresden lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss to Leipzig - he was accompanied by Bach's eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann and is reported to have played the piece prima vista!

The lute pieces are the group of works where the most misconceptions exist. View British lute player/professor Nigel North's liner notes to Kim Heindel recording on the lute-harpsichord "Aufs Lautenwerck" on Dorian for details - a highly recommended recording, BTW! (Seems to be OOP, saw a used copy at amazon.com for a crazy price!)

B000001Q73.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg

As far as the cello suites are concerned, I seriously recommend checking out the two excellent recordings by Anner Bylsma (he played them on gut strings and light bow all his life) on SONY Classical Vivarte, and Peter Wispelwey's newer on Channel Classics. They give the music back its dancing lightness which tends to get lost under the seriousness of a performance on a modern instrument.

B0000027TV.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

B00000C2B4.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.gif

:tup Thanks, very interesting post. Enjoyed reading it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought the Janos Starker recordings on Mercury Living Presence years ago and have never felt the need for another version. . . .35470.jpg

I vote for this as well. I have four versions of the Cello Suites, and the Janos Starker is my favorite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alldirect has the Starker for $15.99, but it's currently out of stock. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all of the responses and dialogue. It seems as if you all had a good time discussing this - a good thing.

I'll probably start with the Starker, live with it for a while, and go on from there.

And please continue, if you will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron Carter recorded an album where he plays this music but only pizzicato. It adds a special groove to the music, but his versions are not like the classical ones at all. Still enjoyable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second Mike Weil's recommendation of the newer Pieter Wispelweij recording :tup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read an essay by Dutch violinist/conductor Sigiswald Kuijken last evening on the subject of the use of violoncello in Bach's church music, and was rather surprised to read that according to latest research Bach rarely used the type of cello we know today, but a violone - a type of smaller double bass - or a type of larger viola in cello range that was arm-held rather than between the knees. The solo cello suites probably were intended for such an instrument as well. Whew!

Know I am waiting for a first recording on a "violoncello da spalla"!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought the Janos Starker recordings on Mercury Living Presence years ago and have never felt the need for another version. . . .35470.jpg

I vote for this as well. I have four versions of the Cello Suites, and the Janos Starker is my favorite.

I bought the Starker version on SACD some time ago. I recommend it highly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.