Sunday, 8 July 2018

Playing Bach: Pau Casals, and Beatrice Rana

I listened again to the six suites for solo cello by Bach. The cellist was my all-time favourite in this music: Pau Casals, recorded in the mid- 1930s and re-released by Pristine Audio. Casals plays very much from the heart which, to my mind, is the secret of Bach playing, and I had the same reaction and degree of admiration listening to Beatrice Rana's recent recording of the Goldberg Variations. There are internal harmonies and rhythms in Bach's music that you sense when you play the works. I used to play the cello suites (albeit transcribed for viola) and arrogantly thought that I played them as well as anyone else …. except Casals, who was always hors concours in these works. For Bach playing one really needs to forget musicologists and erudite PhDs in ancient music. Bach's music is very much alive, if you play it with feeling and understanding. In evidence, M'Lud: Pau Casals and Beatrice Rana. Different generations, different instruments. Different works. Different countries of origin. But eternally valid, to my mind. Forget “recent scholarship has revealed that …" Bach's music is not an historical artifact. Bach's music demands a subjective, human reaction.

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