Best version of Bach's Suites for Solo Cello?
January 28, 2016 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Particularly, I am looking for recommendation of an excellent recording of an excellent performance. Sound quality matters here! I have long been a fan of the Pablo Casals rendition, but I would like to find a rendition I enjoy that is recorded with more fidelity. Of particular interest are recommendations available on Spotify, though I would be happy to go outside of Spotify and buy a version if need be.
posted by jamaal to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Yo Yo Ma is my gold standard for this.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love Bach's Cello Suites, as well. I am not a fan of the Yo-Yo Ma recordings, as I personally find them insipid and insufficiently soulful, but you can see reasonable people can disagree. If you like Pablo Casals (as I do, and I agree on the sound quality), you might enjoy the Mstislav Rostropovich recording. The recent David Watkin recording is nice as well. There are two newer recordings I have not yet heard, but both were highly reviewed by Gramophone; by Steven Isserlis and David Kennedy. This should give you some ideas to explore further and find your own favorite.
posted by Atrahasis at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

I am fond of Janos Starker's performances, and this particular recording is quite highly regarded in hi-fi circles.

There is an SACD version of this particular performance, which I do own, but is commanding stratospheric prices lately.

There are versions recently released that are available on vinyl as well.
posted by the matching mole at 3:10 PM on January 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

My baseline recording is the Paul Tortelier performances.

The Mischa Maisky renditions are also great, and all on Youtube if you like to watch the performers shred.
posted by kpraslowicz at 6:01 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I came here to say exactly what Atrahasis did -- Ma just doesn't do it for me (his version is simultaneously showy snd sloppy) but I LOVE Rostopivich. The suites are actually on YouTube if you want to check them out.
posted by kate blank at 6:16 PM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Love Rostropovich as well. Definitely worth the money to buy them.
posted by good lorneing at 8:50 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Count this as another vote for the Janos Starker performance. The recording is superb. I have the same Speaker's Corner vinyl pressing that the matching mole linked; I'd recommend that version if you have a turntable. A more affordable option would be the CD or iTunes, where you can obtain it for ~$20.
posted by strangecargo at 10:00 PM on January 28, 2016

I've always loved Maurice Gendron's rendition of the Suites.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:18 AM on January 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've always loved Maurice Gendron's rendition of the Suites.

Me, too.

And for what it's worth, after splitting up, my ex, a cellist, bought her own copy of that Gendron.
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:00 AM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

[Spotify link for the Gendron version of The 6 Cello Suites.]
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:42 AM on January 29, 2016

In case you're not primarily out after long-line interpretations in the classical-romantic tradition with varying degrees of rather much vibrato, two eloquent (in the rhetorical sense of Baroque interpretation) versions by Anner Bylsma may be interesting here.

There's his (I think) 1982 recording on a Baroque cello which is a little difficult to get but not impossible. I recall the recording as generally good, but pretty direct in sound. People used to the modern cello might find it a little scratchy.

For his second recording (on Sony, Vivarte label) Bylsma played a Stradivarius cello from the Smithsonian Institution. This version sounds more spacious both in terms of the instrument and recording quality.
posted by Namlit at 5:27 AM on January 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, the only version I have is Zuill Bailey's.

I freely admit that my knowledge of classical music is pretty poor, so there may be problems with this version that I don't understand -- but the music is lovely, and I listen to it often.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:13 AM on January 29, 2016

posted by persona au gratin at 6:43 AM on January 29, 2016

The Janos Starker recording on Mercury (stereo version) is pretty much what you're looking for.
posted by todayandtomorrow at 7:12 AM on January 29, 2016

not sure it's the best, but Edgar Meyer plays an interesting version on double bass
posted by Prunesquallor at 9:42 AM on January 29, 2016

Just listened to the Gendron and loved it. I hadn't thought of dancers giguing until I heard this version - now that seems unmistakable.
posted by bullatony at 5:03 AM on January 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks, everyone. Great recommendations. It is the later Anner Bylsma recording on Sony that has grabbed my attention. Blessedly, it is avalable on Spotify . A number of the other suggestions were enjoyable to listen to, but this is my new go to for listening around the house.
posted by jamaal at 5:14 PM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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