Ma’s outstanding recording of Bach’s Cello Suites

Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6, BWV1007-1012

Yo-Yo Ma (cello)

Bach’s six cello suites must surely be some of the most profound music ever written. They are certainly some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello. Consequently there is no shortage of fine recordings available currently and lovers of Bach and of cello music will certainly want to have more than one version in their collection.

Six evolutions is the third recording of these great works by Ma. Yo-Yo Ma, who numbers among the few living classical musicians that the masses known by name, first recorded these pieces thirty five years ago. So what of this new set. Well, to this listener at least, the more times this cellist plays these pieces in concert, and in the recording studio, the better they get. Over the years his performances have become somehow less straightforward, more spontaneous and more of a personal response to Bach’s wonderful writing.

This is by far the best of the the three recordings that Yo-Yo Ma has made of these works and the performances have been captured in superb sound by the Sony engineers and it sounds especially fine in the 24 bit 96kHz download. Moreover these are performances that can stand alongside the likes of Pablo Casals, Janos Starker and more recently Steven Isserlis. I doubt whether I shall encounter a greater recording of cello works this year, or for longer. This recording had almost as much effect on me as when I first heard the late Jacqueline du Pre’s LP recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85 with Sir John Barbirolli and London Symphony Orchestra. Praise indeed!

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