J.S. Bach – Cello Suites (by Yo-Yo Ma)

J.S. Bach – Cello Suites (by Yo-Yo Ma)

The suites have been performed and recorded by many renowned cellists such as Pablo Casals, János Starker, Pierre Fournier, Paul Tortelier, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma and Mischa Maisky. Ma won the 1985 Best Instrumental Soloist Grammy Award for his best selling album “Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites”.

The Six suites for unaccompanied cello by Johann Sebastian Bach are some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello . They were most likely composed during the period 1717–1723, when Bach served as a Kapellmeister in Köthen. The title of Anna Magdalena Bach’s manuscript was Suites á Violoncello Solo senza Basso.

AMG review: Yo-Yo Ma recorded J.S. Bach’s Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites on two occasions, first for release on LP in 1983, then again in 1997 on CD. It is the 1983 recording that is presented here: J.S. Bach – Cello Suites (by Yo-Yo Ma) , and the original digital recordings have been mastered to enhance the cello’s sound. Ma’s readings of Bach are fairly liberal in rhythm and phrasing and are decidedly more intuitive than analytical, with plenty of rubato and elongation of lines to suggest something like a free Romantic interpretation, far from any Baroque period re-creation. For some listeners who are fans of historically informed or authentic performances of Bach, this may be a stumbling block; but for most, Ma’s expressive playing will seem satisfactory and quite enjoyable, if not exactly revelatory. There is a pensive quality to these performances that will strike some as introspective and probing, while others may find them a bit self-indulgent and studied; either way, Ma falls short of ecstatic communion with the music and delivers a technically polished and intelligent performance that has grace and elegance, if not the deepest emotions or visionary heights. Competing with the magnificent Cello Suites recordings by Pablo Casals, Pierre Fournier, and Mstislav Rostropovich, this set can’t be regarded as the last word in Bach’s cello suites; however, it has held its own for many listeners over the years, and it clearly deserves its place in the catalog. –by Blair Sanderson


J.S. Bach – Cello Suites Tracklist

  1. Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007
  2. Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 –  16:34
  3. Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009 –  35:35
  4. Suite No. 4 in E-flat major, BWV 1010 –  55:09
  5. Suite No. 5 in C minor, BWV 1011 –  1:19:44
  6. Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 –  1:43:29

J.S. Bach - Cello Suites

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