S0547. PABLO CASALS: Suites for Cello Unaccompanied, #4 in E-flat; #5 in c; #6 in D (Bach). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-031, recorded 1939; 1938, resp. Remarkable Transfers by Yves St Laurent offer a full and opulent sound with a wide dynamic range - a quality which surely will not be bettered!
“Pablo Casals recorded J.S. Bach's 6 Cello Suites for EMI between 1936 and 1939 in London and Paris, and these legendary recordings have been in print for many decades without break. There is a mystique attached to these performances that overrides any minor defects of reproduction, and students of these works repeatedly turn to this cellist who essentially rescued the suites from the tedium of the practice room and presented them to the world as fully fledged works of invention and virtuosity. Casals' freedom of phrasing and playfulness with rhythm make the music feel spontaneous and often intensely lyrical, and the quality of interpretation approaches recitative, insofar as Bach's lines at times receive an almost vocal expression. Since Casals' day, the Cello Suites have been played in many ways, including efforts to play them in an authentic Baroque manner, as well as more Romantic attempts at individual expression, but Casals still seems to be the standard against which other performances are measured, and these recordings are indispensable to any serious collector…a phenomenal set compared to other recordings made in the 1930s.”
- Blair Sanderson, allmusic.com
“While he was yet very young, Casals’ father had introduced him to the WELL TEMPERED CLAVIER, and it had become Pablo's habit to begin the day at the piano, playing Bach, saying that this ‘sanctified the house’. But he had never before seen these Bach Suites, now so familiar to all cellists. He had not even known they existed! Now, as he saw them for the first time in his life, he was immediately enthralled and absorbed by them. For the rest of his life he practiced and played the Suites daily, as his spiritual food. Casals revered Bach, and he did not dare to perform one in public until the age of twenty-five, after a decade of study. At that time, the very early twentieth century, no other cellist cared to perform an entire Bach Suite at a recital or concert. They were considered to be either too academic and dry, or too uninteresting for most audiences, without some sort of accompaniment. Casals was astonished that anyone could think the Suites dry, or like an exercise book of scales for intermediate cellists, for he looked at the Suites from his own very Romantic soul, and found them to be full of the deepest meaning and pathos. It is interesting that while Casals invested the Suites with a hitherto unknown Romanticism as far as their emotional content was concerned, he simultaneously modernized the technique with which they were performed.”
- Marshall C. St. John
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011