Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's More to the Cello than Yo-Yo Ma, Or, Introducing the Best 100 of Classical Music Series

Yo-Yo Ma is a brilliant cellist, wonderful ambassador for classical music, and has been characterized by Smithsonian Magazine as "the nicest guy in the classical music business." So why have I titled this post "There's More to the Cello than Yo-Yo Ma?"

Because great as he is, there are other wonderful cellists, and I'm a bit puzzled by people eager to attend the concerts of classical superstars like Ma and Itzhak Perlman but who have little curiosity about other cellists and violinists respectively. If you like Yo-Yo, you might enjoy other cellists as well.

Cello CDs purchased for the library in the last couple years include Zuill Bailey's recording of the Bach Cello Suites and a compilation called Best Cello 100. Even if you're not a classical music aficionado, you've probably heard the Prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, which has been used in an American Express commercial among many other commercials and movies. It's a stunning piece of music, and although I have a friend who insists that Janos Starker's recording of the cello suites is THE recording, I prefer Bailey's interpretations with his lighter touch, heightened dynamic contrasts and, at times, unusual phrasing. There's an improvisatory feeling to his performance of Cello Suite No. 1 that I prefer to Starker's. You can hear Zuill Bailey performing the 1st Cello Suite here, and Janos Starker's version of the first movement--the Prelude--here. Feel free to comment on which you prefer. Dissent is welcome!

We also own Pablo Casals' recording of the suite on the aforementioned Best Cello 100 CD. For someone looking to branch out from Yo-Yo Ma or for anyone who loves the cello, the Best Cello 100 is a great starting place. The compilation is a 6-CD set featuring 100 classics of the cello repertoire performed by acclaimed cellists including Starker, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pré, and Truls Mørk.

Other titles in the Best 100 series that we own are:

Best 20th Century Classics 100
Best Baroque 100
Best Classics 100
Best Classics 100 Volume 2
Best Guitar 100
Best Romantic 100
Best Violin 100

Check them out today!

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