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A unique Companion to J S Bach’s iconic Cello Suites from internationally-renowned cellist Steven Isserlis.
‘Isserlis is the master of the material, yet always able to make it accessible . . . It is an absolute treat to be led to this sublime music by such an ethusiastic expert.’
‘The book I’ve always wanted: an accessible, eloquent guide to the world’s greatest — and maybe most elusive — pieces of music. And written by the man I’d want to tell me about it. This is such a delight.’
‘Striking.’ THE SPECTATOR
Bach’s six Cello Suites are among the most cherished of all the works in the classical music literature. Shrouded in mystery — they were largely unknown for some two hundred years after their composition — they have acquired a magical aura which continues to attract and fascinate audiences the world over. To cellists they represent a musical bible, to listeners, scarcely less. Through what are on the surface simple dance suites, Bach takes us on a spiritual journey like no other, leading us from joy to tragedy, concluding in jubilation, even triumph.
Award-winning international cellist Steven Isserlis, whose recent recording of the Suites met with the highest critical acclaim, goes deep into that emotional journey, bringing to bear all his many years’ experience of performing the Suites. His book is intended as a rewarding companion for all music lovers, ranging from the casual listener to the performing musician. By offering his own very personal observations of the music, Isserlis’s aim is to take the reader further into the world of the Suites in order to enhance the experience of hearing some of the greatest works ever composed.
Praise for Steven Isserlis’ BACH: THE CELLO SUITES
‘The most wonderful cello-playing, surely among the most consistently beautiful to have been heard in this demanding music.’
‘Isserlis has done the impossible. He has given the listener something new, and indeed something outstandingly good . . . This recording can sit proudly on the shelf alongside the great recordings of Casals and Rostropovich. In fact, I may find myself picking it up as the favourite.’
BBC RADIO 3
In his writing, as in his playing, Steven makes hard work seem effortless. He's the master of the material, yet always able to make it accessible. In The Bach Cello Suites he explains often difficult technical detail with great joy and humour. For someone like me, who doesn't know their gavotte from their elbow, it is an absolute treat to be led to this sublime music by such an enthusiastic expert.
The book I've always wanted: an accessible, eloquent guide to the world's greatest — and maybe most elusive — pieces of music. And written by the man I'd want to tell me about it. This is such a delight.
Steven Isserlis is one of the world’s great cellists, and his recordings of the Bach cello suites in 2007 were critically acclaimed for the integrity of their interpretation. Now he brings that insight to bear in a highly engaging book “for music lovers of all shapes and sizes”. From a brief biography of Bach, through the historical context and emotional significance of the suites, Isserlis produces an illuminating, accessible and detailed analysis of one of Bach’s seminal works.
Striking . . . What’s so beguiling about Isserlis’s approach is that he feels the awe and does it anyway. This is a book only a performer could have written; only a cellist who has had his hands in the guts of the thing, weighing every semiquaver and stretching out the sinews of each chord and feeling their tension, could take us this close . . . A companion book to keep close, to dog-ear and take on the train, the start of a conversation not the end of the argument. After all, as Isserlis acknowledges: 'The truth lies within the music, not in anything outside it.'
This is the most wonderful cello-playing, surely among the most consistently beautiful to have been heard in this demanding music [Bach's Cello Suites), as well as the most musically alert and vivid . . . few will fail to be charmed by Isserlis's sweet singing tone, his perfectly voiced chords and superb control of articulation and dynamic . . . a disc many will want to return to again and again.
How much wisdom can be packed into one slim volume? Isserlis has taken Schumann’s aphorisms for young musicians and set them in a modern context from the point of view of one of today’s outstanding performers. The result is humourous, down-to-earth and quirky.
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