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Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6
Johann Sebastian Bach, Nikolai Mednikoff, Blas Net
Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #2

For many of us, Pablo Casals's legendary interpretation of Bach's six cello suites--the 1930s recordings that showcased these works as far more than mere finger exercises for cellists--are still definitive. Casals rediscov...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Johann Sebastian Bach, Nikolai Mednikoff, Blas Net
Title: Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos
Original Release Date: 1/1/2029
Re-Release Date: 9/26/2000
Genres: Pop, Classical
Styles: Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Suites, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Classical (c.1770-1830), Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Instruments, Keyboard, Strings
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 636943191521

Synopsis essential recording
For many of us, Pablo Casals's legendary interpretation of Bach's six cello suites--the 1930s recordings that showcased these works as far more than mere finger exercises for cellists--are still definitive. Casals rediscovered these previously appreciated compositions and did his damnedest to illustrate their importance. Hence, his bold, romantic interpretations, which may lack subtlety but certainly not substance or grace. With Naxos's new remastering from audio producer Ward Marston, this bargain-priced recording makes a vast improvement on EMI's more expensive version of these exact same recordings (and a subtle improvement over Pearl's even pricier remastering). Here, you can finally turn up the stereo and get the full sonic depth of these recordings without fatiguing your ears from a ton of surface noise. Instead, you simply get lost in Casals's flowing, passionate playing and impeccable tone. This has always been a landmark recording and it's never sounded better than this. --Jason Verlinde

CD Reviews

Wonderful, but watch out for a mastering error
Bradley P. Lehman | Dayton, VA USA | 11/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These are of course the classic 1936-39 recordings, essential. Here in Ward Marston's new transfers they sound better than ever, and Naxos' price is lower than anybody else's (not counting the pirates). And it's terrific to see all the recording dates and master numbers listed in the credits. So, five stars on all that.But watch out for a CD mastering error, at least if you're getting an early copy. Specifically, listen to track 6 of disc 1. It is of course supposed to be movement 6 (gigue) of suite 1, but instead it is the first half (first 78 rpm side) of movement 1 from suite 6! Therefore this gigue is omitted from the set.My copy is marked "MADE IN CANADA" and here are all the stamper numbers from disc 1: DIDX-075407 5 IFPI L324. And then closer to the hole there is 6706. I am writing to Naxos' contact address (in the USA) to ask if a corrected replacement is available from a different pressing run.Also there's a typo in the credits: in the Air from the orchestral suite #3, the pianist "Otto Schulf" should be "Otto Schulhof."p.s. Naxos cheerfully replaced the defective disc soon after I wrote to them with the complaint. The good new copy of that first disc is stamped 811AF000915 and 23B61."
Which remastering...which remastering...? [REVIEW SEVERELY U
John Grabowski | USA | 05/13/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'm revising this review completely, because my answer has changed. I'd now recommend neither of these, having heard something far far better. The best remastering I've ever heard is on the Japanese label Opus Kura. The Opus Kura recording of the Cello Sonatas is not available on American Amazon, or in America much at all unless you maybe stumble onto it in a used shop. (Odds are about a million to one there.) But Amazon's UK site has this recording, for a very reasonable price and very fast and reasonable shipping from "across the pond." Highly highly recommended.

The Opus Kura has far less filtering, so that means you WILL get more hiss and crackle. But you also get so much more music, you never realized before how much Casals plays with rich color and subtle dynamic nuance, riding the scale effortlessly from ppppp to fffff (as much as you can on a cello) and back again. These aren't differences that you have to closely compare to hear. I played the first movment of No. 1 in this version and then the Opus Kura for my wife, who hardly has an audiophile's ear, and her response was "Those are BOTH the same recording???" The difference is so dramatic your tone-deaf great uncle could hear it.

True you have to put up with some less-than-optimal surfaces for this, but it's well worth it. You now understand his approach to the music better, and he sounds less stiff and "monochromatic." You'll hear the click of the bow and his fingers on the strings, that's how much sound is washed out by both the EMI and the Naxos versions. It's true that this Naxos set is the only one that also features some obscure Bach cello pieces from the late 20s in addition to the suites--neither the EMI nor the Opus Kura does. If you must have these other pieces, which fill the last quarter of the second disc, then by all means buy this set as a supplement, unless you can find those other pieces in better remasterings elsewhere. (I haven't bothered to look.) But if your primary interest is the suites, pass this recording by for the Opus Kura. And check out some of their other remasterings too. If only other companies were so conscientious! There's simply no comparison, not even close.

Below is the original review I wrote for this Naxos release back in 2001, but as I said, it's really no longer germane. Still, in the spirit of completeness, I'm leaving it.

* * *

I'm not even going to discuss the performances because I couldn't add anything that hasn't already been said, and I have a feeling by the time you read this you've already made up your mind about Casals and Bach anyway. The issue is with this new mastering: is it "better" and how much? The Amazon review says it is significantly better than the EMI. After listening twice with audiophile-grade headphones to both sets, I've's probably a coin toss. All depends what you like. This new one is a bit quieter and more "recessed," but to my ears the EMI sounds a bit more vivid and has more presence. At times the EMI sound gets a bit "tubby" and "smeary," especially in the fast scalar passages. At the same time, the EMI better captures the burnished tone of Casal's cello. Pedal notes, not surprisingly, are also more dramatic on the EMI. The best analogy I can give is the Naxos makes me feel like I'm at a recital sitting in the twelfth row, whereas the EMI makes me feel like I'm next to Casals. It all depends on where you want to be. Honestly, since I can't decide, I'd recommend you get both masterings of these seminal works. Both sets are fairly inexpensive and the Naxos gives you some bonus music not found on the EMI. The liner notes on the Naxos are also better. So my recommendation is for both."
A. Michaelson | Bay Area, CA | 07/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the greatest performance of the greatest pieces for cello ever written, by the greatest composer ever, played by the greatest cellist ever, and i'm definitely not the only one who believes this to be true. Pablo Casals was the first cellist to take these masterpieces by Bach truly seriously. Before Casals, these cello suites were nothing more than practice and study pieces. It took a cellist with the ability of Casals to elevate this music and expose it to the general public. These six cello suites are now considered to be some of the greatest pieces for solo instrument ever written. The sound of this particular recording is not great, considering it is from the thirties, however, Naxos does a better job with the remastering than any other recording company, and at a bargain price this 2-cd legendary recording is a must. After a minute the background noise is unnoticable because you are swept up by the marvelous playing. In either this Naxos incarnation or some other, this legendary recording is a MUST MUST MUST HAVE for any classical collection."